Though Waters Roar

by Lynn Austin

Paperback, 2009



Call number



Bethany House Publishers (2009), Edition: Reprinted, 430 pages


Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet Sherwood has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in God--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals.


Christy Awards (Nominee — Historical — 2010)


Original language


Physical description

430 p.; 8.5 inches



User reviews

LibraryThing member ldellinger
Though Waters Roar is a historic novel about generations of women in America fighting in their respective times to protect runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, to abolish the sale of alcohol during Prohibition and to pass an amendment for the Women’s Suffrage movement.

Personally, I found
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the subject matter interesting. I enjoy American history and found Lynn Austin’s portrayal of the plight of American women throughout the last century engaging. However, Austin's historical novel is committed entirely to neither plot nor verisimilitude. Her language is simple and her story plain and somewhat predictable; the novel seems as if it were written for the education of junior high students. Apparently, Austin believes the key to a woman's happiness and success are strong Christian faith, hard work, and self respect. With those morals in mind, Austin puts her characters through contrite situations with clear moral imperatives which just happen to take place during historical revolutions.

For my taste, Though Water Roars was too didactic and unrealistic and didn't address actual historical events. For the right reader, however, it could be educational and interesting!
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LibraryThing member Islandgal
As twenty-year old Harriet Sherwood sits in jail, she ponders the irony that she has been arrested for transporting liquor at the advent of Prohibition, the very cause her grandmother has advocated for more than forty years.

Lynn Austin skillfully weaves a multi-generational tale set between
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1848-1920 introducing us to Hannah, Beatrice, Lucy & Harriet, their choices and the resulting challenges facing them throughout their lives. Set amidst the national themes of Anti-slavery, Civil War, the Temperance movement, and finally Women’s Suffrage, the attitudes and expectations of men toward women may surprise those unstudied in America’s history. Each woman’s attitude and reaction toward their situation is compelling and varied.

The book is particularly powerful in its faith message of turning to and trusting in God during desperate times of trial. When Beatrice leaves her alcoholic husband, her mother firmly counsels her to return and fight for him, through prayer, for God to help her husband overcome his weakness. Beatrice is reminded that her marriage was a vow made before God for better and worse, and that times of trial do not mean quitting and giving up. In today’s casualness of marriage and vows, Lynn Austin’s characters demonstrate to the modern woman how to turn to God for strength in seemingly impossible moments. The rest of the counsel might surprise and anger you, as it did Beatrice, but in following Beatrice through her journey, we recognize the strength and power within ourselves that comes by allowing God to work within us to change our circumstances through His will. As each character discovers this is not an easy choice, but a difficult, daily, conscience decision worth making.

Other themes include the relationship between mother and daughter, social classes, marriage, love, business. Characters demonstrate that making the right decision is often the more difficult path to follow. The author does not ignore her characters weaknesses, but allows them to learn from their mistakes. The reader shares their love, frustration, anger, and other emotions as they share their lives. The trials faced by each character are similar to current situations we all face today.
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LibraryThing member ysab3l
Typically I don't like Christian fiction, especially the type aimed at women. Though I am a Christian myself, most of the time I find the stories saccharin sweet and completely unbelievable. This book has some of those moments. There are times when I can;t simply believe that someone is that naive.
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But those moments are few, and the core story that emerges is a sweet remembrance of character driven ladies, who refused to be shaped by their times and circumstances. Reminiscing while in jail the heroine picks apart her life and the lives of her matriarchs and draws strength from the wells of their faith and perseverance and well as discovers the value of her own. It's a story about resistance in trouble times when the status quo seems to be everything but what the Lord would have you to do. A good read.
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LibraryThing member jonnydollar77
Though Waters Roar is a novel that addresses social issues, such as slavery, Prohibition and the suffrage movement, in a tasteful and interesting manner. Austin delivers a great read with this novel that contains endearing tales and also a look into what life was like, especially for women, in the
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late 1800's and early 1900's. Although the way in which the storyline progresses can at times be confusing, the overall tale that is spun is very intriguing.

Spine-tingling and thrilling are not necessarily how I would describe this story, but it was hard to put down nonetheless. The characters face obstacles and issues in their lives that I'm certain most readers will connect with at some level. And although their choices are not always wise we, as the reader, have the benefit of learning from their errors. Each of the main characters have qualities and characteristics that are admirable, but they also have some that are not so attractive, just like we all do; which makes them that much more believable.

The theme of reliance on God is very apparent throughout the generations of families that are brought to life in this narrative, and while not extremely overt, it is definitely recognizable. The other theme that leaps out at me from the pages of this book is that of the human nature to always do what pleases our own selves. This attitude is certainly not glorified in this story, but it is an integral part of the storyline, showing the error of living one's life solely with this mindset.

A definite thumbs up for this book!
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LibraryThing member Sheltiemama
"Though Waters Roar" tells the story of four generations of a family's women. It opens with Harriet sitting in jail and wondering how she got there. All we know is that somehow she's broken the Prohibition law, a cause for which her grandmother worked for decades. To figure it out, Harriet takes a
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mental tour of their lives, going back to the day her grandmother was born in 1848.

This novel presents wonderful images of strong women. Harriet's great-grandmother supported abolition and helped slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. Her grandmother, whose story forms the heart of the book, worked for prohibition after seeing what alcohol did to her weak but beloved husband. Harriet's mother, Lucy, surprises everyone by turning from a socialite into a suffragette.

Their strong faith guides these women, though Harriet is just starting on that path. I hope Lynn Austin writes a sequel, because I'd love to see what cause Harriet feels led to support. Civil rights, perhaps?

This would be a great book for teenage girls, as well as adults.
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LibraryThing member angelswing
I liked this book. The characters are inspirational. It is the story of three generations of women and how they each lived their lives by their faith. However, I really thought that some of the characters need to be more developed, especially Harriet's great grandmother. Still all in all, I
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recommend it as an inspirational read.
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LibraryThing member smilingsally
Lynn Austin can write! I completed this 428 page book and sighed with satisfaction. Her characters are well-rounded, flawed people; I make connections to each one and anxiously turn the page to find out what will happen next. The plot is a series of jigsaw pieces, carefully put into place until a
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satisfactory picture emerges.

The theme is one of relationships between mothers and daughters as well as husbands and wives, while the setting spans four generations of U.S. history. Read this one. You won't be disappointed.
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LibraryThing member jaidan
I enjoyed reading this book. It was a surprise for me because I'm often disappointed with Christian Fiction. This book had some surprises that I really enjoyed.
LibraryThing member vintagebeckie
Lynn Austin is one of the most talented authors in the Christian fiction business today. I have read a number of her Biblical fiction offerings and loved them. Though Waters Roar is the first historical novel I have read by her, but it reinforces that she is a must-read author. A multi-generational
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saga set against the backdrop of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Though Waters Roar explores the role of women in the political events of the times while creating a very personal story of survival, sacrifice and love. This book is a 5-star read! Exceptional!

The stories of four generations of women are told in this well-researced narrative. History comes alive through the eyes and actions of Hannah, Bebe, Lucy and Harriet. Told in first person and third person accounts, Though Waters Roar shows the impact of women on various social causes such as abolition, temperance, and sufferage. The stories become personal as Hannah hides runaway slaves on a stop on the Underground Railway, Bebe lifts up hymns and prayers in front of saloons and Lucy wields her charms to influence politicians to vote for extension of women’s rights. The bulk of the story is Bebe’s, a woman who fights against society and her own inclinations to keep her family afloat in difficult times. Harriet grows up hearing the stories of her courageous family and yearns to make a difference too. Austin also weaves a faith message throughout the story, a message of dependence and obedience to God. As the women struggle with their own desires, their focus becomes God’s call for His will above all else.

Though Waters Roar is filled with historical events and personages, yet feels like a story told by your grandmother. These characters lived history making this story very, very real for the reader. I cannot say enough about this book — it is a must-read I would recommend to anyone. I listened to the audio version and the reader was excellent. She did a great job of becoming the voices of ordinary women who attempt the extraordinary.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

Great for book clubs.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)
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LibraryThing member debs4jc
This book tells the story of a family whose women have stood up for justice through each generation. The story is told by the youngest woman, Harriet, who is in jail for standing up for her own beliefs about what is right. While there she remanences about the stories her grandmother told her about
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her life. Those stories include helping Harriet's great grandmother assist slaves as part of the underground railroad. Harriet also recalls the stories her grandmother told her marriage, her husbands addiction to alcohol, and how it prompted her to become an prohibitionist crusader, as well as an advocate for women gaining the right to vote. As the stories unfold the reader gradually learns how this spirit of standing up for what is right has filtered down to Harriet - but Harriet still has some lessons to learn about how to follow God's leading while working within the system to help bring about change.
This was an enjoyable read. Some of the attitudes of the characters may seem a bit dated today - but they would be true to their time periods. At points it seemed a little too "preachy" and a bit forced in how the characters followed the message the author was trying to portray. I would probably stick to recommending this to fans of religious fiction of a conservative bent.
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LibraryThing member amalficoast
A great story based on our past history. This book must have been written after a lot of research by the author. Good job.

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