Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P'ing Ch'eng - City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love - and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?
Told through Will and Katherine's alternating viewpoints - and inspired by the lives of the author's maternal grandparents - City of Tranquil Light is a tender and elegiac portrait of a young marriage set against the backdrop of the shifting face of a beautiful but torn nation. A deeply spiritual book, it shows how those who work to teach others often have the most to learn, and is further evidence that Bo Caldwell writes "vividly and with great historical perspective" (San Jose Mercury News).
Suppose it is an autumn day, fine and clear and cool. Late afternoon, when the sun nears the horizon and turns the sky into a watercolor of pastels. It is beautiful, as though God is showing off. As you approach the city you first see its wall, an immense gray brick structure that is as solid as it is imposing, nearly as wide as it is high, some thirty feet. If you are coming from the east, it will be in sharp silhouette against the lovely changing sky. Near the city the air begins to smell of smoke, but mostly it has the sweet, clean scent of the ripening winter wheat in the surrounding fields.
From a distance the city may not look like much; only that dark wall is visible, and what can that tell you? Some say the cities in the North China Plain are by and large alike, one indistinguishable from another; to them this one might look like any other. But it is not; I can testify to this, for it is the place on this earth that I love the most, the city in which my wife and ...
Captivating and moving, The City of Tranquil Light transfixed all 14 of our First Impressions reviewers:
I loved this quietly powerful book, even though it was not "compelling" in the typical, cliff-hanging way (Denice B). I had a lot of things to do today, but the book held my attention to such a degree that I got up early and spent most of my day in my reading chair because I couldn't put this book down (Susan S). It's now almost mid-August. Since January 1, I have read 88 books, a list that includes contemporary literary fiction, quality non-fiction, and acknowledged classics. City of Tranquil Light is the best so far, and I look forward eagerly to Ms. Caldwell's next work (Darra W). (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Full Review (1476 words).
Religion in China is a hard topic to pin down. The country has been officially atheist since 1949 - a policy that was rigorously enforced through the early years of the People's Republic of China but was relaxed in the 1970s.
Since 1978 the Constitution of the People's Republic of China has guaranteed "freedom of religion" and the Chinese government recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism (or Daoism), Islam, Catholicism and Protestanism. Religions that are accepted by the Chinese are treated with a fair degree of tolerance; however, new religious movements are, on the whole, considered cults and are banned and harshly repressed. This is likely in large part due to the history of religious cults threatening political stability. A ...
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