Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blog Tour: All That Was Promised, by Vickie Hall

Perhaps because some of my forebears came from Wales, I readily agreed to review the recently released LDS historical novel, All That Was Promised, for this blog tour. I wasn't disappointed to find tidbits about Welsh culture and cuisine sprinkled throughout the work. Vickie Hall did her homework for her debut novel, but it doesn't show unduly, as she avoids the mistake of many new authors of throwing in every bit of research, simply because they know stuff the reader surely must need to know, as well.

The book is published by the Bonneville Books imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc. They do some of the most stunning cover art in the LDS marketplace:

This novel, which was provided to me by the publisher, is most suited for LDS teens and women.
From the back cover: Ben's expression registered his surprise. "You're a minister?" he asked, curiously.

Richard cleared his throat as a telling grin twisted his mouth. "Aye, that I am."

Leah returned to the compact parlor and gave the missionary a scant glance. "Do you find that amusin', Mr. Lachlan?"

"No, not at all," he replied sincerely. "People from all walks of life recognize the truth of the gospel."

An encounter with a Mormon missionary and his unusual message of a "restored gospel" leave Richard Kenyon, a young Methodist minister, questioning his life's work when he cannot deny a growing testimony of this peculiar American religion. But Richard soon finds himself struggling to recognize the promised blessings of the gospel when violent persecution shakes the fledgling Church in Wales.

An accomplished composer and produced playwright, Vickie Hall has turned a new leaf in her life by trying her hand at fiction. All That Was Promised is based upon the journals of her Welsh progenitors. It gives her great joy to tell their story in a fiction format.

I found the story in All That Was Promised to be well-told, and most of the characters to be nicely developed. I liked Richard Kenyon's sincerity. I ached for his wife, Leah's, childless state and struggles to accept the changes that Richard's conversion brings into their lives. I was horrified at the persecution, the senseless destruction and beatings--even until death--that the Saints in Wales endured. Although my Welsh ancestors came to America before they found the gospel, I could imagine how difficult it would have been for them to undergo such trials.

I do have a quibble with the manner in which the author chose to use Point of View for her characters. Actually, I suspect she didn't choose it so much as she was perhaps ignorant of how Point of View works.

There is an old, not-so-much-in-favor-now Viewpoint called Omniscient. As author Orson Scott Card explains in his excellent how-to book for novelists, Characters & Viewpoint, "The only time we (authors) can act out our godlike role in front of the audience is when we write using the third-person omniscient point of view." Card continues: "As an omniscient narrator, you float over the landscape wherever you want, moving from place to place in the twinkling of an eye. You pull the reader along with you like Superman taking Lois Lane out for a flight, and whenever you see something interesting, you explain to the reader exactly what's going on. You can show the reader every character's thoughts, dreams, memories, and desires; you can let the reader see any moment of the past or future."

Sounds like A Christmas Carol.

Unfortunately, no one uses Third-person Omniscient Viewpoint to good effect these days. Mostly, there is a lot of "head-hopping" going on, which pulls the modern reader not along on a flight of fancy, but out of the story, instead. I persevered, and found that I could mostly ignore the viewpoint shifts, even when they occurred in successive paragraphs.

Since this novel was published by a commercial publisher, I lay the blame for the POV errors on the head of the editor, who should have gently guided her author into making appropriate changes so that we only saw one character's point of view per scene, and not a mishmash of every possible thought and reaction of every character present.

That, along with an abundance of adverbs and adjectives, were my only complaints with this novel. There is evidently a sequel in the works. I look forward to reading it for further adventures with Richard and Leah Kenyon.

To learn more about Vickie Hall, check her website here, and her blog here.

All That Was Promised is available in LDS bookstores and at Amazon in print format here, and in Kindle format here.


  1. Interesting review. I have found professional reviewers advise helpful. And a good editor will spot those kinds of problems fast.
    Love and blessings

  2. Wow! what a talented lady. I wish you the best with your new talent, Vickie. Thanks for the post Marsha.

    Anna del C. Dye
    Author of "The Silent Warrior Trilogy"

  3. How I wish I was as smart as you about writing. I reviewed the book and feel totally ignorant as I didn't even notice the POV changes.

    I really appreciate your review though. I not only got to hear what you thought of the book but I also got to learn about the omniscient point of view. I love it when I learn something. Thanks.

  4. Thank you for your comments, Rita, Anna, and Alice.

    We all learn by reading a lot of books, and by analyzing what we read. Then, when we read reviews, we can compare how we felt about a particular book, what elements of fiction or non-fiction the author is best at, and where he or she could improve. (Every author can improve, including me!)

    Alice, don't feel bad about yourself or your strengths or weaknesses in reviewing books. You will learn as you go, and notice how the author uses fiction elements to influence the reader's emotions.

    Many beginning writers don't know about POV, especially if they write in a vacuum without input from peers. It's my hope that I can give gentle instruction to beginners, and receive the same from more experienced folk so I can strengthen my own novels.

  5. I have to say I agree with you on the writing problems. I noticed the same things.


I welcome your comments.

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