available from David C Cook
The glimmering Huguenot cross she innocently wears leads her deep into the shadows.
When Gabriella Madison arrives in France in 1961 to continue her university studies, she doesn’t anticipate being drawn into the secretive world behind the Algerian war for independence from France. The further she delves into the war efforts, the more her faith is challenged.
The people who surround her bring a whirlwind of transforming forces—a wise nun involved in the smuggling, a little girl carrying secret information, and a man with unknown loyalties who captures her heart. When she discovers a long hidden secret from her past, it all leads to questions about trust, faith in action, and the power of forgiveness to move beyond the pain of the past.
Brief physical description
She’s 21, has a ‘thick mane of red hair’ and bright blue eyes. Here’s the first impression that David Hoffmann, the other protagonist, has of her:
But his eyes kept straying to the young woman sitting like a statue to his right. He had noticed her at once: mounds of red hair curling wildly about her head and bright, clear blue eyes with an innocence and luminosity that shone like an angel from one of Raphael’s paintings. In contrast to the other girls, she seemed childlike and fragile. An angel, he thought. A Raphaelite angel.
He realized then who she must be, so out of place among these sophisticated socialites-in-training. Yes, this must be the daughter of missionaries from the west coast of Africa. A wealthy relative was paying for her junior year abroad before she continued her education at a college in the States. That was the story, anyway. The poor girl was probably scared stiff.
Later, David reflects: Gabriella! Even the name of an angel.
By the way, you’ll find out more about David Hoffmann in next week’s Character Spotlight!
Well, I know Raphael’s paintings are a bit dated, but since David thinks she looks like one of Raphael’s angels, voila! This will give you an idea! I suppose if you have to choose an actress, Gabriella somewhat resembles Nicole Kidman, but she is much more innocent-looking and kind. There is no evil or flirtatious intent in her bright blue eyes.
Strengths and weaknesses
I’m going to let you hear directly from Gabriella:
You want to know about me? I’m an American who grew up as an MK (missionary kid) in Senegal and right now, March 1962, I’m spending a year studying in France. I speak English, French and several tribal languages. I wear a Huguenot cross that my mother gave me, and ever since I arrived here in Southern France, that cross has been a catalyst, plunging me into all kind of adventures that have to do with Algeria’s War for Independence from France. So far, 1961-62 has been a crazy year for me—being far away from home, falling in love with a handsome young professor who doesn’t share my beliefs, being set up as a scapegoat in the midst of a very complicated war.
My strengths are my faith in the Lord, my loyalty, my determination to seek the truth, my heart for children. I really want to do something big and important for God. Trouble is, I keep seeing how He asks me to be faithful in the small things first. My weaknesses—oh, there are many, but one of the main ones is my big mouth. I am often talking too much, revealing too much information and it keeps getting me in trouble!
Well, I don’t consider this a quirk, but perhaps you will. I read poetry—honest, I do—and other literature. I really appreciate John Donne, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, T. S. Elliot and even D. H. Lawrence and James Joyce. Oh, (we are in 1962, France, aren’t we?) and there is the most wonderful little novel that just came out last year by Harper Lee. It’s called To Kill a Mockingbird. If you haven’t read it, you should!
My inspiration for Gabriella came as I was cataloging books in the seminary library where I worked while my husband was getting his Masters. I imagined a lovely, naïve heroine who was bright and very well-read, getting involved in a war she knew nothing about. Years later, when my husband and I moved to France as missionaries, I learned about Algeria’s war for independence from France and Gabriella came to life, walking the cobbled streets in a little village in southern France and unknowingly becoming involved in the war. Her love for literature and art was inspired by my studies of French and English literature and Art History. Another important inspiration came from the semester I spent studying in southern France. As I thought back on that experience, I relived how God became so much more real to me because I was far away from home and I needed Him in a new way. Gabriella also finds this to be true.
Background to the story
When Gabriella Madison arrives in the French village of Castelnau in 1961 to continue her university studies, she doesn’t anticipate being drawn into the secretive world behind the Algerian Ward for independence from France. And the further she delves into the war efforts, the more her faith is challenged. The people who surround her bring a whirlwind of transforming forces—a wise nun who knows more about the war and Gabriella’s past than she’s saying, a lost little girl who is carrying secret information and a debonair man with unknown loyalties who pursues Gabriella. When she discovers a long-hidden family secret, it leads to questions about trust, faith in action and the power of forgiveness to move beyond the pain of the past.
ELIZABETH GOLDSMITH MUSSER, an Atlanta native and the bestselling author of The Swan House, is a novelist who writes what she calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’ For over twenty years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with International Teams. They presently live near Lyon, France. The Mussers have two sons and a daughter-in-law.
To learn more about Elizabeth and her books, and to find discussion questions as well as photos of sites mentioned in the stories, please visit www.elizabethmusser.com.