From the first book I read by Lynn Austin, I have been a fan of her captivating way of bringing history to life through beautiful writing and intriguing plots. Return to Me is the first book in Austin’s new series The Restoration Chronicles that tells the Biblical story of the Israelites returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity to rebuild their temple.
Beginning with an intense preface, Lynn Austin introduces us to the legendary Daniel of the Lion’s Den who has grown old in Babylonian captivity. As an advisor to Babylonian kings, Daniel introduces Austin’s story of King Cyrus’s unexpected announcement that some Israelites might return to their promised land.
Although I haven’t read Austin’s other Biblical novels, I was impressed with her attention to historical detail and Biblical knowledge. I loved how she seamlessly wove Biblical text into the narrative to substantiate her story. While many of the everyday details of her characters’ lives are fictional, Austin uses real Biblical people to adroitly capture the essence of the personal and societal conflicts that the returning Israelites faced.
Iddo, like Daniel, grew old in captivity and he could never forget the horror of the exile. Iddo’s children only know Babylon and when they are invited to return to Jerusalem, they decline. Iddo’s one grandson, Zechariah, although young, returns to build the temple with his priestly grandfather.
Following the joyous announcement, the pilgrims return to Jerusalem to find devastation, famine, and animosity from locals. Austin cleverly tells of their struggles, heartaches, sorrows, and determination to build a temple and restore proper worship of their God.
While Return to Me was not a heart stopper read, it was a touching, beautiful story of love—love of people for their neighbors and love of a people for their God. Bethany House Publishing sent me a complimentary copy of Return to Me by Lynn Austin to review.