My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Big Men’s Boots is a piece of historical fiction set in Wales in 1904, at a time of great social and political upheaval. It is based on true newspaper reports from the era. Wales has been know as “The Land of Revivals” since around the 3rd Century.
The story is about the Welsh Revival 1904-1905. To explain fully what a Revival is I shall quote from the book;
“A Revival is a Supernatural phenomenon that occurs when God pours out his Spirit (the Holy Spirit) on a people, group or country, miraculously healing and transforming them, this phenomenon often spreads through the nation and across the world.”
This story revolves around a family group who live in North Wales in a slate mining community; Owen is a young boy gifted with second sight, his older brother Huw works in the slate quarry, his father is a Baptist Minister and his mother is a supporter of the women in the community. The book opens with the funeral of Owen’s young friend Stephen who died on the mountains after a fall when the two lads were out. Owen loves the mountains he finds them spiritually uplifting, but he is suffering in his grief at the loss of his friend.
There has been a long strike at the mines and miners who have gone back to work for the sake of their families are being labelled “Blacklegs” and there is a lot of bad feeling towards these strike breakers. Owen’s parents try to bring the community back together by encouraging forgiveness. Chapel meetings are a large part of this community and Jacob tries to get the men to turn back to the word of God.
There is much talk of a Revival to save the people and turn them from the evil which filters in. There have been many Revivals before and the talk is about a new one coming soon. Local women Anna is a prophetic and she announced the Revival will come from the South. It becomes the full focus of many of the people, they believe it will be their saviour like the coming of Jesus. Critiques call it a social hysteria.
Owen is visited by an Angel and in December he is given an earthly assignment by a golden being. He does struggle with the decisions he must make, but he also has the love and support of his family. The belief in the Revival is so strong that the power the people have when they gather together is enormous. As the Revival takes over there are miracles of healing and men and women convert from their old bad ways to a new enlightened life.
This isn’t an easy read, it is filled with religion and Biblical references. The writing style has many long paragraphs covering several pages which left me wishing for more breaks to make the reading experience less intense. The building of the Revival is very good, with the scene well set. You can understand the fears those outside of Wales had for this strength and power that the people created. An interesting read about a subject I knew nothing about when I began the book.
This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Hillman Publishing
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