Title: A Strong Tower
Author: Rebecca Martin
Major Themes: Waldensians
Synopsis: When her father becomes a Waldensian, Anna, her brother, and their staunchly Catholic grandmother end up following him into exile.
Rebecca Martin began writing books shortly before I started selling books in 1990. I really enjoyed her books, and for several years bought all of them as they were published. After I sold the bookstore, however, I lost track, and have been absolutely amazed recently to realize how many she has written! For an Old Order Mennonite woman, she is doing a lot of writing. I do like the books she has written in a contemporary setting better than the historical ones, though.
A Strong Tower is one of her historical novels. It tells the story of the Waldensians, and is much more believable than the other Waldensian story we have read recently, Worth Dying For, Anna, age 16, is quite disturbed when her father begins going to Waldensian meetings. Her grandmother, who has raised Anna and her brother since their mother died many years ago, is a staunch Catholic and refuses to consider any other beliefs. She goes along, however, with the children and their father when he is forced out of the city because of his beliefs. They take refuge at a local castle, working with the serfs there. After an avalanche destroys their huts, however, the Catholic servants turn against the Waldensians and again they are banished. Where will they find safety? Anna searches for a safe place, a safe tower, as her father’s favorite Psalm says. How can she find that when the group is forced to wander from place to place, in danger on the mountains and from cruel, greedy men.
A Strong Tower clearly explains the beliefs of the Waldensians in the 13th and 14th centuries. These people were devoted to their God and living wholeheartedly for Him. They were frequently banished from their homes and forced to live in the mountains, even in the winter. A Strong Tower brings this to life. However, as I have noticed in a lot of historical novels, there are some inaccuracies. The biggest one I remember in this book is one of my personal pet peeves; the family eats potatoes. The problem with this? Potatoes were not even introduced into Europe until some time after Columbus discovered America in 1492! That is really a minor point, however; this book is really very good. We enjoyed the story, although it doesn’t move as fast as a lot of stories we read.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15