Book review: 'A Distant Shore' engages readers in faithful journey

By Melissa DeMoux

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 24 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

"A DISTANT SHORE: Shadows of Brierley Vol. 3," by Anita Stansfield, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 240 pages (f)

Popular LDS author Anita Stansfield released the third and final book in her “Shadows of Brierley” series in August. This installment, “A Distant Shore,” follows her endearing Scottish characters as they continue to fold their lives into the budding world of Mormonism in the 1840s.

After leaving their beloved homeland and embarking on an arduous journey to America, Ian and Wren Brierley have settled into a peaceful life in Nauvoo, Ill., surrounded by people who share their Mormon beliefs. With their dear friend Ward and his new wife, Patricia, nearby, life seems complete.

However, an unexpected visit from their cherished prophet plunges the families into an adventure. Ian and Ward are asked to leave their families to return across the ocean and preach the gospel in the land of their birth. But leaving their families is much more difficult than either of them could have imagined.

While Ian and Ward sail east to share the gospel, Wren and Patricia are left at home to care for their young families. Wren’s daughter, Gillian, begins to experience odd influences and Wren must rely on powers beyond her own to keep her little girl safe.

Ian is forced to watch as ordeals surface in family life on two continents. Not only is Wren facing difficult trials at home in Nauvoo, but his family in Scottland is struggling as well. Can his faith lead him through his hardships and help him succor those he loves most, even from hundreds of miles away?

This closing piece of the story has much more life than either of the other two volumes. The characters' devotion to their religion sparks their faithful journey. “A Distant Shore” seems to move fluidly and pulls the reader along. Mingling the tale with pieces of history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adds an almost historical feel to the novel as well.

Although their lives are simple, the characters do face trials and difficulties that are sometimes relatable and sometimes just intriguing. They are forced to rely on their faith as well as each other to overcome the struggles they encounter. The story has some unique and unexpected twists that will keep readers interested.

As Stansfield draws this series to a close, she leaves readers with faithful and memorable characters engaged in a heartfelt tale that wanders into a treasured time in LDS Church history as well. The story will leave lovers of Stansfield’s works smiling.

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. Her email is mddemoux@gmail.com and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.

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