If you like art, pioneer life, pineapples, or just a good old story, you’ll enjoy The Journeyman, by Elizabeth Yates. This book was published 1943 by the author, and 1990 by BJU Press, and would fall under the historical fiction genre.
The setting of this book is in New Hampshire, during the extremely cold and frozen year of 1816, and follows the story of a young apprentice painter who overcomes fear and suspicion from both himself and those around him. It depicts his rising from an abusive home to a loving one, and from being a fearful, insecure teenager to a confident, well-known young man. It also shows how when there is hardship surrounding you, you should trust in God and believe that He has a plan in what He is allowing to happen to you; or else you will turn around and blame the cause on your friends and neighbors.
This journeyman painter’s name is Jared Austin. He was born to Eben and Lucy Austin on a beautiful spring day when the apple trees were in bloom. However, the loveliness would not last long. Three days after his birth, a late freeze came, which destroyed the crops and froze the ground, and also killed something else; Lucy Austin, who had died sheltering Jared from the cold. Eben Austin, Jared’s father, was convinced that Jared had put a curse on them, and hated him ever after. Jared grew up in the shadow of his father’s hatred, often being mistreated. Jared is quiet and timid at first, and he has a gift for art. After being a journeyman’s apprentice for many years, he returns to his home state of New Hampshire, where he will be accused of cursing the crops, as they all froze when he came back.
Some other characters include: Mr. Toppan, Jared’s paint master, a tall man who also has a gift for art. He employs Jared as his apprentice painter and trains him to paint and to trust God. A hot-tempered young farmer who hires Jared to paint his house and prepare it for his new bride-to-be. Jared’s childhood sweet-heart, Jennet, is high-spirited and brave and not afraid to stand up for those she loves.
The author, Elizabeth Yates, writes in an unusual style for historical fiction, making the book read almost like a fantasy. Her use of detail is very unique and she leaves enough out so you can form your own ideas of what the scene should look like. The use of dialogue is a little awkward sometimes; but it is mostly because she was writing many years ago, and use of language changes over the years. This book is an easy to medium read, and it is very well written.
I highly recommend this book for 12+!!! It doesn’t have any particularly adult themes in it, but may be a little confusing for younger readers. A fantastic read and good morals in the story, as well as excellent use of imagery and phraseology. 4 out of 5 stars.