This book is based on the true story of Agnes and Margaret Smith, who are known as Flora and Rebecca Hawes, sisters who grew up in Chicago, the daughters of a wealthy lawyer. Flora and Rebecca are brought up by their father for part of the book, and he encouraged them to be outspoken and to pursue life in a way not common to young teen girls in the 1800s. Both women are intelligent, and well educated. Flora is more gentle, while Rebecca is bold and assertive. The book starts out in the Sinai desert in the year 1890, and then in Chapter two, which is only 8 pages later, you go back 30 years, to 1860 for a delightful account about their lives as teenagers.
They love to travel, and each excursion shows them more of God’s plan for each of their lives. This is the central theme to the book, finding out God’s will for one’s life, and Lynn Austin explains the Christian faith in a wonderful, interesting way.
A sub plot is centered around discovering old biblical manuscripts, and here you learn a few things about the story around the Codex Siniaticus, and Constantine Tischendorf, and the Catholic monastery at Mount Sinai.
Aside from this sub plot, the book is extremely interesting, I enjoyed reading it very much, and I especially like the way Lynn Austin switched from present to past, and then ended up blending past into the book’s present day seamlessly. This book was absorbing, and the account of the Great Chicago Fire was electrifying! She also touched on the politics of the War Between the States, aka the Civil War. I recommend this book!
For further information about the pros and cons of the Codex Siniaticus, read these articles and books: