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Hughes, "The Winds and the Waves" (reviewed by Tristi Pinkston) Options · View
Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 1:16:13 PM

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Title: The Winds and the Waves
Author: Dean Hughes 
Publisher: Deseret Book
Genre: Historical Fiction
Year Published: 2012
Number of Pages: 438
Binding: Hardback
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 978-1-60907-058-8
Price: $24.99

Reviewed by Tristi Pinkston for the Association for Mormon Letters

I’ve been a Dean Hughes fan since forever, and affectionately refer to myself as his stalker. I don’t know what he thinks when he sees me, but hopefully he’s not fighting with himself to keep from calling the police on me and my rabid fan ways. It’s just that when you write historical fiction, and then you read something of the caliber of a Dean Hughes novel, it’s very hard not to get a little carried away when you get to meet the author in person.

“The Winds and the Waves” is the first volume of a new series penned by Hughes titled “Come to Zion.” In this first installment, we travel back to 1840s England and meet Will Lewis, a brash young farmer who really has no use for religion even though his family attends church regularly. His parents, particularly his mother, wish he would make room in his heart for things he can’t see, but Will has never understood the value of faith. He only knows what it means to work hard and play hard, and yes, love hard. He’s had his eye on the beautiful Liz for a long time, but her background of luxury means his chances with her are very slim.

In desperation to earn a little extra money, Will rashly sets traps on the squire’s land—an action forbidden if he wants his family to keep their tenancy. He believes he won’t be caught, but when his trap lands him a deer rather than the smaller prey he sought, he is spotted making off with the large animal. To keep his father from losing his home, Will leaves, taking the blame with him and going out into the world to make his own way.

Work is hard to find, and Will travels to the larger cities in hopes of finding factory work. But several other men down on their luck have had the same idea, and all the positions are filled. Desperate, Will takes a job in a mine, only to endure the brutal reality of what happens when you pit men against each other and nature in an effort to survive. 

We contrast Will’s story with that of Jeff and Abby, a young contemporary couple who are facing problems of their own. In need of work, expecting their first child, and wondering how to make ends meet, they accept when an unusual offer comes their way. A friend has purchased a home in Nauvoo and wants them to come renovate it. Jeff, ever a student of history, learns all he can about the place, and yet somehow misses the spirit of the early Saints and gets caught up in the technicalities, correcting the missionaries as they give tours of the historic sites. As Jeff comes to understand more about his own roots, he stumbles across the story of an ancestor, Grandpa Lewis, and realizes there’s more to Nauvoo than just a collection of dates and facts. Abby comes to understand what it means to be a pioneer for herself, even though she has no ties to traditional Mormon pioneers in her heritage—as a convert, she is blazing the trail for those who follow after her.

Hughes’ writing style is impeccable, as always, although I admit I found myself much more intrigued by Will Lewis’s story and not as captured by Jeff and Abby.  Perhaps that’s because their struggles were similar to things I’ve experienced in my own life and I wasn’t as pulled away into someone else’s story as I generally prefer to be when I pick up a book. I did find myself more engaged as they learn of a trial their unborn baby will face, but that happens later in the book and I wish I’d felt more of a connection to them sooner in the read. I also felt there was more going on in Will's segments, whereas Jeff and Abby's segments were less action-oriented. 

Be that as it may, I did enjoy “The Winds and the Waves” very much, as I do all Hughes’ novels. He has a way of marrying the historical facts with the emotions of the fictional characters to present a story that not only educates, but uplifts. “Come to Zion” is slated to be a three-book series, and I look forward to seeing what the next installment will bring.
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