Whispers from Yesterday
“So many regrets, Lord. So many regrets.” These words of Sophia Taylor echo through the pages of Whispers from Yesterday, an intricate tale of pain and despair rooted in the past – and the love, faith, and hope that heal the present and change the future. Robin Lee Hatcher boldly, but with great love, tackles heavy moral issues facing men and women today without wavering, as her characters learn to trust in the God who holds their futures as well as their pasts. Romance is a strong element, but the spiritual journey of each primary character remains paramount in this story of redemption and renewal.
It is a hot summer day in Idaho when eighty-two year-old Sophia Taylor sees the past step into the present in the form of her granddaughter, Karen Butler, whom she has never before met. No introduction is necessary; Karen is the living image of her deceased mother, Maggie Taylor Butler. To Sophia’s sorrow, Karen resembles her mother in more ways than physically.The same tormented, haughty, love-starved spirit peers through Karen’s eyes. “The sins of the fathers are visited upon the next generation and the next,” murmurs Sophia as she realizes the condition of Karen’s rejection-scarred heart, and what it will take to heal her.
Karen’s mother died a few years previously, still bitterly estranged from Sophia. Karen’s wealthy father committed suicide when his illegal business practices came to light and he lost everything. Karen who unsuccessfully tried to end her life as well, is now penniless and homeless. She turns to Sophia, her only remaining relative. All thoughts of ingratiating herself just in time to inherit her grandmother’s ranch, the Golden T, quickly die when Karen sees the shabby buildings set on barren land. Even if she inherited it, she couldn’t sell it for enough to return her to her prior lifestyle, and she could never live in a place like this!
Dusty Stoddard shares Karen’s conviction of her unsuitability for ranch life. Dusty lives on the Golden T, running a youth camp for at-risk boys in the summer, and helping Sophia keep the place going through the winter. One look at Karen is all it takes for him to size her up, but with God’s help he soon sees that Karen is in desperate need of help. As his compassion grows into love, Dusty also sees his own need to reconcile himself with his past, and release it all to God.
The past is a tangible presence in this story. Woven throughout are the journal entries of Esther, Sophia’s younger sister. Their close and loving relationship was torn asunder when Esther married the young minister Sophia wanted for herself, and Sophia spurned her sister in bitter anger, refusing to be reconciled until it was too late. Although Sophia went on to marry another man she grew to truly love, Esther was gone, killed along with her husband in Denmark during World War II. But Esther had one remaining gift for Sophia – her four-year old daughter, Margaret Rose, and the journals that Esther had kept since the age of twelve.
Through the journal entries, Sophia has found for herself the same passionate, joyful relationship with her Savior that Esther had known, and it has transformed her life. Now she trusts that Karen, too, will find her answers in Esther’s story.
Ms. Hatcher skillfully portrays Sophia, Karen, and Dusty in all their humanity. In addition, there are secondary characters that mirror the tragic effects of sin and the reaping of consequences. Yet throughout, the love of the gospel message, and the real relationship with God that is available to all offers the comfort that makes the pain bittersweet.
The relationship between Sophia and Maggie is not so clearly portrayed, and I found the explanation for the rift between them somewhat unsatisfying. Despite this, the pattern of history repeating itself with Maggie rejecting Sophia as Sophia rejected Esther is evident.
Esther’s story is skillfully revealed a bit at a time, building more tension than would be expected since the ending is known from the beginning. The author’s notes at the end are not to be missed, as they offer more information about the heroism of Danes during the horrifying events of World War II, when they faced death to save the lives of the Jews in their midst.
Though this book moved me to tears more than once, the outcome is one of hope as once again love conquers all.