“So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him?” is the Bible verse from Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 (NLT) quoted in Allison Pittman’s historical Christian novel, All for a Song. With three hundred and fifty-seven pages, this paperback has a photograph of a woman from the 1920’s on the front cover and paragraphs about the book with the author’s biography and small photograph on the back. There is no profanity in the book, but the subject matter of promiscuity, smoking, dancing and kissing may be unacceptable for immature preteen age or younger readers. At the end of the novel, there are twelve discussion questions to ponder. This reader wishes all pronouns in regard to God would be capitalized for reverence. The author weaves a romantic story based during the Roaring Twenties of Dorothy Lynn Dunbar, both as a naÃ¯ve, young Christian nineteen year old girl and a one hundred and seven year old woman in an assisted living home, jumping back and forth through marked font changes from her years coming of age to looking back at her life in her feeble age. When Dorothy’s father dies and handsome Brent takes over his position as pastor in their rural town of Heron’s Nest, Dorothy becomes quickly engaged but is torn if it is God’s will or is there something missing from her predictable life. To clear her mind, she visits her married sister in St. Lois so the sibling can sew her wedding dress. Immediately captivated by the bustling city life, Dorothy is noticed for her wholesomeness and singing voice by divorced thirty year old Roland Lundi, sweet-talking, cigarette-smoking manager of the famous Aimee Semple McPherson, the real life charismatic female evangelist of the era. The worldly Lundi convinces the guileless girl to travel with the crusade to Los Angeles where McPherson is establishing a new Pentecostal church, using the lure that Dorothy can find her brother. The unsophisticated Dorothy not only becomes enamored in singing songs to Jesus in front of an attentive audience but is caught up in the social, materialistic world that envelopes her. Reverting every few chapters to her aged, weaken state of having a stroke and unable to speak, she reminisces and recalls the fear, love and forgiveness the Lord gives her as Charlotte, an unknown but somehow familiar visitor, spends time with her on her birthday. The reader is guessing every quickly-turned page if Dorothy regrets her long-ago decisions and forgives as she looks forward to being with Jesus eternally. With the focus circling around an iconic leader such as McPherson, one easily understands the society, culture and temptations of the time and lifestyle in regard to women, their newfound “flapper” apparel, behavior and attitudes. The book not only puts the Roaring Twenties into perspective, but how decisions based on God’s will change one’s path in life.
If I had to summarize this book in one word, it would be powerful. This story was so well written that you actually feel as if you are in the story with the characters. The message is so powerful and relates to every day life. This story reminds us to always seek Gods will and to focus on what's truly important in life.
In Pittman’s latest historical tale of young women of faith, everything seems to be falling into place for Dorothy Lynn Dunbar as romance blossoms between her and the man who is to assume the role of pastor following her father’s death. As she contemplates the life that seems to be perfectly mapped out before her, she is troubled by the small inkling that she might be missing out on something. It is during a trip to St. Louis that Dorothy Lynn finds herself facing all that life might hold for her when she is forced to make decisions that will forever alter her future. By alternating perspectives between the young Dorothy Lynn of the Roaring Twenties and the now-centenarian Lynnie more than 90 years later, Pittman skillfully paints the complete picture of this bold female character who is willing to take risks in order to discover the life that she truly is meant to live. Readers of inspirational fiction will be stirred as this story of longing unfolds, revealing testimony to true contentment.
In All for a Song, Dorothy Lynn Dunbar seems contented with her family, her small community and her fiancé, the young minister who took the place of her late father at the pulpit. She can think of few moments more idyllic than stealing to the meadows with her guitar and lifting her voice to God with the songs she writes.
When she visits her sister in St. Louis, Dorothy Lynn is confronted with a way of life completely fresh to her: a world where moving pictures boast the handsome visage of Rudy Valentino, where greasy spoons serve Chinese food, and where a riveting and riling woman named Aimee Semple McPherson is intent on leading sinners to Jesus.
Tantalized by the words she hears at one of Aimee’s crusades, and enticed by the prospective career she might have spreading the gospel through the pure notes of her songs, Dorothy Lynn decides to leave small-town life behind. But, what seems romantic and adventurous on the surface will reveal a dark undertone, and she comes to realize that sometimes God works as deeply on small scales as He does on grand stages.
All For A Song proves Allison Pittman is not only one of the most talented and literary writers in the CBA but also an author with a tremendous writing range. Never afraid to confront subjects that have a bit of edge, Pittman sets the coming-of-age story of innocent Dorothy Lynn against the Evangelical fervor strummed up by charismatic speaker Aimee Semple McPherson. The result is an engaging and unique experience that reads like a breath of fresh air in a market filled with many similar historically influenced tales.
The 1920’s setting of All For A Song will be familiar for readers who read and enjoyed Pittman’s earlier novel, Lillies in Moonlight. The colorful and saucy world of flappers, of bobbed hair and fast automobiles, of rouged lips and frayed skirts are well-paired here against the excitement of the crusades held to bring those fallen back to the purity of God’s love.
Readers who want to find comfort within the pages of their Christian novels will surely find it here, but not without first being challenged by the effervescent hype Dorothy Lynn experiences. A beautiful story of a prodigal finding her way back to grace and forgiveness is told with Pittman’s customary wit and keen observation. All For a Song exhumes an important figure in our Evangelical past and brings her to life in a way that is thought provoking rather than saccharinely sweet and happy.
If you are looking for an intelligent read that will encourage you to think deeply, feel greatly, and offer more than a few challenges, then All for a Song is the read for you.