Castles in the Clouds
Written by: Myra Johnson
Publisher: Franciscan Media
Month, Year: August, 2016
A brief summary from Myra Johnson:
Young and impressionable, Lark mistakes a college professor’s interest for romantic love. When he offers her the chance to join his efforts serving at a mission a school in Kenya, she pictures herself bringing the light of knowledge to hundreds of African children eager to learn. But the menial tasks she’s assigned at the school aren’t so different from life on the farm where she grew up. Worse, her fragile heart is broken when she realizes her feelings for the charismatic professor are not returned. Miserable and deflated, she gives up and returns home.
Enter Professor Anson Schafer, whom she met briefly in Kenya. Partially blinded from an eye infection he contracted there, Professor Schafer cannot return to Africa. He has come to Lark’s college to recruit teachers for a more modest venture—the founding of schools here in the U.S. for those struggling through the Depression.
Still stinging from her experience in Kenya, Lark is reluctant to risk more disappointment, but she knows how great the need has become, and—although this isn’t yet the teaching career she’d envisioned—she finally agrees. As they work side by side, Lark begins to realize that the deepest satisfaction comes not so much from what you do, or where you do it, but from the attitude of your heart. She also slowly realizes that the gentle, determined Anson is the true love of her life.
Castles in the Clouds is an interesting take on missionary life and the hardships associated with spreading the gospel overseas and within one’s homeland.
Dreaming of becoming a teacher, Lark jumps at a chance to join a group of teachers to serve at a mission school in Kenya. But when she arrives at the mission, the tasks she’s given are everything but teaching. Disheartened, she serves as best she can, but when missionary Professor Schafer, the leader of the mission and her only true friend, leaves to head back to the USA, situations take a turn for the worst and Lark jumps aboard the first ship back home, ready to work on her family’s farm and eventually return back to school. But things are more dire at home than her family let on. Will Lark ever be able to return to teaching or will she have to learn to be content with living her life out on the family farm?
I have mixed feelings on Lark. She’s a sweet character and always tries hard to do whats right, but to me, she never matured beyond the flighty, naive heroine that we initially meet in the beginning, and her lack of trust for her close companions made me sad for her. However, I was a huge fan of Professor Schafer, the Kenya missionary who is working to raise funds for his mission and the state-side schools he’s setting up. His value and determination for his mission in life is commendable. He does not have an easy life, suffering from blindness and struggling to keep his missions afloat, yet he continually puts his faith in the Lord to see him through all things. I really enjoyed his character!
This novel didn’t go were I was thinking it would. I assumed more of the plot would take place in the mission field of Kenya than it actually did, which actually disappointed me a bit. Yet, perhaps the point of the story was that mission work lies in one’s own backyard; that it doesn’t take a grand adventure overseas to be God’s hands and feet. I do wish I had read the first novel in the Flowers of Eden series, The Sweetest Rain, prior to reading Castles in the Clouds. I think I would have had an easier time with all the characters had I done so. Overall, this was a solid read and I recommend it for anyone who loves missions, love, and trusting God in all things. 🙂
I was graciously provided a free copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.