Author: Maureen Lang
Title: Springtime of the Spirit
Publisher: Tyndale House

It’s the fall of 1918, the “war to end all wars” has just ended, and Johnny has come marching home again—but in this case, “Johnny” is named “Christophe” and his march home led to his native Germany. It’s not exactly a happy homecoming for Christophe; his parents and brother are dead, his sister just fled to the U.S., and his entire country is a mess.

Christophe doesn’t have a clear post-army career plan; he’s too busy dealing with guilt from his days as a sniper. So when the Durays, a well-to-do local family (made even wealthier by war profiteering), ask him to travel to Munich and persuade their almost-eighteen-year-old daughter to come home, Christophe follows God’s leading and agrees. Christophe remembers young Annaliese fondly enough, though her older sister Giselle was more his type. Now Giselle is dead under mysterious circumstances and Annaliese has run away to Munich, refusing to so much as correspond with her estranged family. The Durays are worried; they intend to leave Germany permanently but don’t want to sail without their daughter. Besides, who knows what trouble she’s getting herself into in the big city?

Meanwhile, Annaliese is making a name for herself on the streets of Munich—as a political speaker, that is. She’s fluent, loud, and committed to the cause of equal rights and equal treatment for men and women of all classes of society. Annaliese works as an unpaid staffer for a rising politician named Jurgen who is out to create a better society—his version of “better” anyway. Jurgen thinks he and young Annaliese would be a dream team off the stage as well as in front of the crowds, but she isn’t so sure. She may have turned her back on her mother’s God, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to leave all her standards behind. Especially when Christophe shows up, rekindling a schoolgirl crush that may be ready to grow up into something more.

Springtime of the Spirit has the potential to be a fascinating story. Unfortunately, there’s an awful lot of philosophizing and not a lot of action. Christophe struggles with Jurgen’s views, Annaliese struggles with Christophe’s faith, and Jurgen struggles to get into Annaliese’s bed. Despite all this emotional maneuvering, the first half of the book felt more like a primer on socialism than a romance novel. Educational, yes; interesting, not so much. The story eventually picked up the pace but a long section toward the end where two characters kept missing each other was as contrived as a drawing room farce minus the comedy.

What Springtime of the Spirit does well is illustrate how desperate times lead to desperate measures. Even for people with the best of intentions it can be a swift slide down a slippery slope from doing what’s right to doing what’s expedient. It may not be the most engrossing romance novel, but as a cautionary tale, Springtime succeeds admirably.