Author: Bo Caldwell

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9228-8

Click Here To Purchase City of Tranquil Light: A Novel

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell takes us into the lives of a missionary couple living and working in China in the early 1900s. Will and Katherine Kiehn meet en route to the mission field and as their mission grows and develops, so does their relationship as they marry and forge a life together. The first person narrative account of Will gives us a glimpse into the missionary mindset. It is alternated with Katherine’s diary entries, which gives us insight into her character that may have been lacking if the story were only told through the voice of her husband.

In the character of Katherine, we encounter a nurse more than a missionary. Caldwell does not develop the same sense of faith and Christian duty in her as we see in Will. It is not her devoutness that leads her to a life abroad; it is her longing to help people physically rather than spiritually. Hers is a social calling rather than a religious one. She is slightly older than Will, turning twenty-two after having left Shanghai en route to Ch’eng An Fu – City of Perfect Peace – on the border of Shantung and Honan provinces, where her sister Naomi, brother-in-law Edward, and their children have made their home and mission. That is not to say that Katherine is not a Christian; she is deeply rooted in her faith, but does not appear to have the same relational experience with the divine as does her husband. This makes sense since she is a nurse while he ministers to the people he encounters.Caldwell does not glorify or romanticize the missionary life. Through this couple, she reveals hardships, crises of faith, and religious struggle.

This is best described in the following statement by Will:

"When I was twenty-one and on my way to China, I tried to envision my life there. I saw myself preaching to huge gatherings of people, baptizing eager new converts, working with my brothers in Christ to improve their lives. I did not foresee the hardships and dangers that lay ahead: the loss of one so precious, the slow and painful deprivation of drought and famine, the continual peril of violence, the devastation of war, the threat to my own dear wife. Again and again we were saved by the people we had come to help and carried through by the Lord we had come to serve. I am amazed at His faithfulness; even now our lives there fill me with awe." (p.3)

To me, this encapsulates the story of City of Tranquil Light. If this quote captures your heart, as it did mine, then you will want to read this beautiful book that is all about faith and relationship; between Will and Katherine themselves as well as with the people they encounter and the God they serve.

In City of Tranquil Light Caldwell draws on her family’s missionary heritage to create a story that is profound, inspiring, and moving. It will lead you to think about the sacrifices made every day by missionaries around the world.

Click Here To Purchase City of Tranquil Light: A Novel