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Lynn Austin Answers The Faithful Fifteen -- August 2005

Books by
Lynn Austin




(Refiner's Fire, Book 2)

(Refiner's Fire, Book 3)

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Lynn Austin
Bethany House
Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780764204951

Discussion Questions
About the Book
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About the Book

Life in Sweden feels like an endless winter to Elin Carlson after the deaths of her parents. When circumstances become unbearable, she determines to find a safe haven for her sisters.

So begins their journey to America...the land of dreams and second chances.

But as hardship becomes their constant companion, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia question their decision to immigrate to Chicago. Will their hopes for the future ever be realized?

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Discussion Questions

1. The relationship between sisters can be very close, yet siblings often view the same experiences from their childhood in a completely different manner. How did Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia each view leaving their homeland? The ocean voyage? The events in Chicago? How did each sister react to the deaths of their parents?

2. What word would you use to describe each sisterís personality? What attribute was most memorable? What were each oneís strengths and weaknesses?

3. Which sister changed the most over the course of the novel? What specific events brought about that change? Was there a turning point for each sister?

4. On the night before landing in America, the passengers talked about their hopes and dreams for their new life. "As each person shared his own tiny sketch of the country, the finished picture resembled paradise" (page 99). What was each sister hoping for? Were her hopes realized?

5. What do you think seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time meant to the sisters --- and to the boatloads of immigrants who made the journey to America? Compare the experience of an immigrant in the late 19th century to immigrants today. What has changed? Remained the same?

6. In what way was the ordeal on Ellis Island traumatic for each sister? In what way was the experience beneficial to each one? If you had immigrant ancestors, did the story help you to visualize the hardships and challenges they might have experienced?

7. The sistersí arrival at their aunt and uncleís boarding house was, in many ways, disappointing. Do you think they learned any valuable lessons from their time there?

8. What secrets did each sister keep from the others? What kept each one from confessing? How might the story have changed if they had shared the truth with each other?

9. How would you describe the various men and the part they played in this story? Their brother Nils; Tor Magnusson; Uncle Sven; Eric and Hjelmer; Ludwig Schneider; Uncle Lars; Gustav Anderson; Knute Lindquist; Gunnar Pedersen.

10. What was each sisterís opinion of love and romance? Did it change during the course of the story? Why and how?

11. How would you describe each sisterís spiritual journey? What was her faith and her view of God like in the beginning? In the end? What caused the sistersí faith to grow? How might hardships and challenges draw us closer to God and to our loved ones?

12. Mrs. Anderson, the Fairy Queen, played an important role in the sistersí lives. What did they learn from her? What did she learn from them? What did you think of the legacy she left them? Why do you think she chose not to give them money?

13. Describe the steps each sister secretly took to "save" herself and her sisters? Why do you think they took those steps in secret? How might the story have changed if they had consulted each other first?

14. The Carlson sisters --- and millions of other immigrants --- faced enormous challenges when they left their homes. What do you think their biggest challenge was? Have you ever experienced a time of "leaving home"? Did the change live up to your expectations or were you disappointed? What was the biggest challenge you faced?

15. Kirsten complained that lugging their trunk from place to place was like carrying around a dead troll. What did the trunk mean to each of them? Where do you think it ended up?

16. Where does each sister ultimately find "home"?

© Copyright 2017 by Lynn Austin. Reprinted with permission by Bethany House. All rights reserved.

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Critical Praise


"In 1897, the promise of the gold-paved streets of America can heal the broken hearts and lives of orphans Elin, Kirsten and Sofia Carlson, if only they survive the transatlantic trip from Sweden. Family secrets --- ranging from the disgrace of suicide to shameful relations --- churn like the ocean itself during a two-week crossing, only to haunt the girls after they reach Ellis Island. From the first sighting of Lady Liberty through their travails to reach a newly rebuilt Chicago, the girls discover their strengths, a variety of new acquaintances and, most importantly, each other. And while they quickly experience the immigrant's harsh realities, they also find a way to make a life in their new world. Complete with room for happily-ever-after, this rich tale will not disappoint historical romance fans. Austin, three-time Christy Award winner, scores again with an engrossing tale of loss, determination and hope."
Publishers Weekly

"Austin's most worthy new historical centers on the immigration experience. The characters grow spiritually, and readers will appreciate everything they had to get through to become the people they are at the end of the book."
Romantic Times Book Reviews

© Copyright 2017 by Lynn Austin. Reprinted with permission by Bethany House. All rights reserved.

Click here now to buy this book from

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