Shine Like the Dawn

Non-Fiction - Womens
282 Pages
Reviewed on 08/05/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Bertha: Shine Like The Dawn by Lisa M. Hutchison is a dive into the Germany of the mid-1800s through to the mid-1900s. Bertha, the title character, was a real person; the great-great-grandmother of the author and a woman who struggled through and dealt with the immense social changes that characterized Germany, Europe, and the world during that period. Raped by her own uncle at seventeen, Bertha found herself pregnant and alone. The only solution, from her family’s perspective, was to find someone prepared to marry the young woman and claim the child as his own. With no choice, Bertha marries a man she hardly even knows and so begins a reign of terror by an abusive and drunken husband. When she finally finds the courage to leave him (an incredibly difficult thing to do in the 1800s) she runs to her beloved Oma (Grandmother) in Berlin and tries valiantly to raise her children in a loving and caring environment, faced with the never-ending changes to the social fabric of Germany at the time.

I do love a good historical story and Bertha: Shine Like The Dawn is absolutely that. Author Lisa M. Hutchison clearly has a lot of personal emotion poured into this story, given her familial relationship to the principal character. This passion shows in a story that depicts a woman ahead of her time in Germany of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her compassion is deep, and her understanding and patience, in the face of trials and tribulations that would defeat others, are incredible. As a character, Bertha was an immensely appealing person. I particularly loved the way that no matter how hard things seemed, what travails she faced, she still maintained a positive, “must do” and “no choice” attitude to life. The story absolutely flows beautifully and is very easy to read, definitely a tribute to the author’s writing talents. Bertha lived through some of the most turbulent and tumultuous times in history; two world wars, the Great Depression, Germany’s hyperinflation and yet through it all she was indomitable, with the love of her life, Leopold, beside her for a large part of it. The greatest tribute I can pay Hutchison as an author is that the narrative successfully transports the reader back to those tough, yet simpler times and makes one feel almost like part of this family. A truly readable and worthwhile story that I can highly recommend.