The fifth book in the Baker family saga, Banner of Love, tells how Alice’s little sister, Linda, gets involved in the American Civil War. Linda falls in love with a man on the “wrong side” and discovers all the issues she is dealing with grow dim beside real love and true freedom.
It is the early part of the nineteenth century and although New Englanders have been spreading their wings and moving ever further west for years Evelyn Brook, the daughter of wealthy Jonathan Baker, has lived in Maryland all her life and would never think of leaving. She doesn’t know how to cook, she doesn’t make her own clothes, and she doesn’t take care of her own children. That’s what servants are for.
Evelyn does have a good education for a girl brought up in those days, and she is compelled by her father to teach school just long enough to get a taste of the power of independent thought. But after her marriage she settles down in a mold set by generations of the upper class in New England and is quite satisfied with her life, for the most part.
Then the unthinkable happens and she finds herself without servants, riding in an expensive but uncomfortable and clumsy covered wagon. Evelyn not only has to learn to cook, but she has to eat her mistakes while she learns. She soon discovers that the clothes considered suitable for the women of her class in society are totally unsuitable for the trail west. So she learns to sew. Can life get any harder?
It certainly can. Added to all the menial labor Evelyn is learning to do, she is given the task of teaching her and her brothers’ older children. Evelyn’s father has everything under control and Evelyn’s niece, Alice, is delighted with the whole impossible situation; but then, Alice is only four years old and doesn’t have to do anything but enjoy the fruit of other people’s labor.
Evelyn doesn’t like any of these changes, but being a good woman is important to her so she hides the anger and frustration I her heart and puts on a happy face. She learns to do her duties as mother, wife, and teacher well without revealing her feelings. But her thoughts aren’t so complacent. She hates her new life, and being pregnant with her third child doesn’t her general miserable state of mind. She doesn’t want to hear about tall evergreen forests and cool streams stocked with unbelievable large fish and lined with berries. What does she care for that? Home had all the delicious dishes she could desire and they were prepared by someone else.
Adding insult to injury, the other members of Jonathan Baker’s family all seemed to think this insanity is a joyful lark.
Jonathan himself has always lived an unsettled life, popping from one war into another and never staying with his family. But now that he is an old man, instead of staying put and enjoying his later years like any sane man would, Jonathan takes on a new battle. The trouble is, this battle is with the untamed west and he is taking his family with him. Evelyn thinks the whole family has lost its sense of reality.
To complicate matters, one of Evelyn’s brothers, Stephen, is seriously injured when one of the members of the wagon train mismanages a plot to rob their fellow travelers and Stephen tries to intervene. Evelyn’s world seems to be falling apart and when her husband goes after the culprits and their plunder, not returning when expected she as to take the added responsibility of doing her husband’s job along with her own.
Since the other members of the family are busy with their own responsibilities to help Evelyn with her burdens a Presbyterian minister traveling with the train helps her get through some difficult ordeals. Evelyn is mad at God but the minister keeps telling her God loves her and will help her if she will let him. The minister tells Evelyn God made her the way she is and gave Lawrence to her because he knew she needed him. He seems to be making quite an impression with some of the other members of the Jonathan Baker family but Evelyn tries to ignore him.
However, Evelyn’s attitude is gradually changing without her realization. As her muscles get stronger she gets used to the burdens; they become less of a burden and more of a reason for pride. And Evelyn can’t help remember what the minister said about it being God who made her and he wanted to help her.
Then one of the young culprits Lawrence has been chasing rides into camp with the news that Lawrence is dead. Everything dies inside of Evelyn until she remembers her children and decides she must go on being a “good mother” even if she is dead.
Evelyn’s lifeless indifference to everything that doesn’t relate to her children frightens her family and they go in desperation to the minister for help, which opens the door for the whole family to get a glimpse of the Maker and his love for them. Most of the members of the Baker family have always believed in a social gospel. The ones who don’t believe that all the gospel contains is a sort of rule book for society haven’t made themselves obnoxious by arguing with the ones who do, but now the door is open they began to slowly make their faith known.
Evelyn gradually comes back to life and realizes she can actually find joy in winning the battle over her ordeals. Everything the minister, Daryl O’Riley, says seems to have profound meaning now and Evelyn is no longer content with a social gospel. Her entire family seems to be leaning the same way and it isn’t long before they all find “new life in Christ” is better than a social gospel any day.
Then Evelyn’s mother has what seems to be a heart attack and the whole family learns to pray. God answers their prayers and increases their faith for the trails ahead.
Evelyn’s father is beginning to know the guilt of dragging his family into his passion for adventure and bringing suffering to them as a consequence. He offers to send Evelyn and the children back home to the east, but Evelyn discovered her home changed position and is traveling with her.
Evelyn gives birth to twins west of the Snake River. The pride in the woman God created is growing with each victory, and giving birth to live healthy twins on the uncut Oregon Trail is no little accomplishment.
Every incident in Evelyn’s life is an opportunity for Daryl O’Riley’s help. He is beginning to be very important to Evelyn and her children. And the two of them are unintentionally getting to know each other.
By the time Evelyn and her family get to the Willamette Valley in Oregon Daryl O’Riley’s place in Evelyn’s heart is fixed and the book is finished with their wedding.
Donovan uses earthly things to describe spiritual things. He makes things that happened in heaven a pre-curser to things that happened on earth – in a way, an explanation of how things happened on earth. This is not just one man’s idea of what may have happened in heaven in the past, but what is happening in the spiritual realm now and how it affects earth.
This book takes you into a Mid-west travel and family life in times when the bad people had to be taken care of by the family of the victims. It shows the interior conflict of a person’s battle between right and wrong and their belief in God. I would recommend this book to any one that likes adventure.
Once again we are on the Oregon Trail of the 1800’s. The sage is so well set that it’s little wonder that a kidnapping occurs. And it is a small surprise indeed that those who recently came to know God now depend wholeheartedly upon Him. That this story is focused on God, is no surprise for those who won the west trusted Him and found their Christian ideals affirmed.
The authors’ faith, her kind heart, and attention to detail, make this novel one that all lovers of historical fiction would enjoy reading while curled up by a fire on a rainy afternoon surrounded by the comforts these settlers left behind in pursuit of the American dream.
Review of Day By Day by Gloria Lupo
Read in August, 2013
A Inspiring Story of Family and Faith
This second novel in Allison Kohn’s Baker family saga plunges fast into the lives of these interesting and inspiring characters who were introduced in the first book. It might be helpful to read the books in order, but this story can stand on its own. This huge family of grandparents, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends continues with their mid-1800s frontier lives in the Willamette Valley after their trek there from comfortable lives in Maryland.
The Bakers now are well established in Oregon, and the main story follows the life of beautiful young Diana and the growth of her Christian faith as two new settlers fall in love with her. This plot is complicated by the fact that these two young men are brothers. Another local man, a villainous character out to rob the Bakers and kidnap and harm Diana, lurks about trying to carry out his evil plan.
The personalities of many other family members and friends develop in this story, all of them with their challenges and victories. One of the most entertaining is the young girl Alice, who is headstrong, often wrong but willing to learn, brave, emotional and often confused, but funny and inspiring nonetheless. She and the other children bring some good laughs to this tale that shows the trials and feelings that pioneer north westerners must have experienced.
Some of the best scenes in the story are those in which the adults of the family teach the younger ones and the children how to face their problems with Christian faith and Christian actions. These are gentle, admirable people trying to live kind and honest lives under often difficult circumstances.
In this novel, Allison Kohn writes a tale with believable and inspiring characters who draw the reader into their lives. Two of her big talents as a writer are describing her characters and their environment. She easily helps the reader picture these people, their small frontier village, and the majestic Oregon scenery surrounding it.
This is a book well worth reading. I recommend it particularly for readers looking for inspirational fiction, for those who like romance, and for those who enjoy stories of the west.
Kiexiza’s review Sep 08, 13
5 of 5 stars
Read in September, 2013
This is the 2nd novel from Allison that i have read. There seems to be a theme here with mid-west travel, the past, and scripture… Not my usual kind of read, in fact far from it, though it wasn’t my usual kind of read i found it interesting. I had to remember it was way past as the ages of these Children, by today’s standards, were talking about marriage, babies, husbands and such. There was some scripture quoting my characters especially as Theodore was learning the word. Young Alice and her decision that she surely would not be married, because she knew she would be unable to submit was a revelation to me. I wish some women a today would take that bold step… there was even some reference to the slavery that was going on around that time frame. I was glad the N word wasn’t used though that would have probably been correct terminology for back then. I don’t think i would of been able to read it if the N word was in it. There was a lot in the book that kept me reading, I don’t know how I would have reacted had my children been injured as the young girls were. I think my faith would have been tested as well. Though it took place a long time ago I did connect to the book and its characters. The scripture readings were not over the top but correct for the characters in which were reciting them… Another great read by this author.eview of Angels, Eagles, and Fire