Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser ended in such suspense that I knew I would need to request the second book of the trilogy immediately. Thanks to our wonderful library system, I received a copy of Two Testaments very quickly and I was able to immerse myself into the dangerous story of Gabriella and David, two Americans caught up in the complicated Algerian War for Independence. Ethnic hatreds and past decisions made by certain factions force more and more refugees from Algeria's borders to France for safety. Among them are Anne-Marie and an old friend Eliane. Still working behind the scenes in Algeria are David, Eliane's husband Remi, and Anne-Marie's harki friend Moustafa. As each man worries about his love in France and each woman waits anxiously for her man to abandon war-torn Algeria, no one realizes that a traitor has infiltrated the small Castelnau, France orphanage which has opened its doors to the tiniest of refugees.
I learned so much history from the first two books in this trilogy. Vengance, greed, need for oil, fear of those who are different -- these are stories we've heard before and unfortunately, they have shaped the modern world too many times. As the story unfolds, you will see how they shaped the 1960's and beyond.
Musser does a superb job of clarifying the opposing factions and the chaos that was Algeria then, but her real skill is in telling the redemptive stories of the characters. I can't decide which story is more powerful. There is young Hussein, merely a boy, who has been targeted by revenge-seeking Ali to become a murdering martyr. Can the unquestioning love of those at the orphanage change his heart? Then there is the love story between Anne-Marie and Moustafa, a victim of self-condemnation and pity, sure that she can never be forgiven or given a better life. She deeply loves Moustafa, her childhood friend, but he is a harki and she fears no one will accept a mixed love. David's heart has led him to help Anne-Marie and the escaping children, but he contests that he recognizes no God. When he begins to care for Gabriella, he cannot help but wonder. Perhaps my favorite character is the elderly nun who runs the orphanage. As her story quietly unfolds throughout the two novels, you'll be witness to a strong story of faith in action.
Now I can't wait to get the final copy of this trilogy Two Destinies I already placed a hold through interlibrary loan. The setting has jumped ahead to 1992 and civil war has erupted in Algeria. Missionaries and Algerian believers were killed or forced into hiding, as militant fanatics seize power. Again hatred, intolerance, revenge and greed will shape modern history. Yet, as I am sure Musser will show, God is there and faith will touch lives.
As I went to Elizabeth Musser's website to grap a photo of this book, I noticed that she refers to her books as "entertainment with a soul" I believe that is why I continue to read Christian fiction. Too often, I am disappointed by simplistic writng, preachy attitudes, or unrealistic "goody, goody" settings, but quality Christian fiction from writers such as Musser, Lynn Austin, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Francine Rivers deliver "entertainment with a soul" consistently! How often do we waste time on television shows, movies, or even books that do nothing to sustain us? Bless these authors for their creativity and entertainment that nourishes.