Dorothy Lynn Dunbar has everything she ever wanted: her family, her church, her community, and plans to marry the young pastor who took over her late father’s pulpit. Time spent in the woods, lifting her heart and voice in worship accompanied by her brother’s old guitar, makes her life complete . . . and yet she longs for something more.
Spending a few days in St. Louis with her sister’s family, Dorothy Lynn discovers a whole new way of life—movies, music, dancing; daring fashions and fancy cars. And a dynamic charismatic evangelist . . . who just happens to be a woman. When Dorothy Lynn is offered a chance to join Aimee Semple McPherson’s crusade team, she finds herself confronted with temptations she never dreamed of. Can Dorothy Lynn embrace all the Roaring Twenties has to offer without losing herself in the process?
Dorothy is an 18 year old from a small town in Missouri where everyone knows everyone else and their business. The furthest from home she’s been is St Louis to visit her sister. The world is unknown to her, but she has occasionally wondered what it’s like. After her fiancé proposes, she visits St Louis so that her sister, Darlene, can make her wedding dress. Despite being married with children, Darlene has become a thoroughly 1920’s woman and she is determined that Dorothy experience life before she settles down. When her sister takes her to a movie theater, Dorothy’s life starts changing in a way she couldn’t possibly have imagined. She gets a glimpse of Aimee Semple McPherson’s crusade, and meets Roland Lundi who works for McPherson.
I didn’t know much about Aimee Semple McPherson before I read this book, although I had heard of her. It’s my opinion, however, that she does not appear here in a positive light. She discards Dorothy as quickly as she takes her on. She talks of investors and, at one point, says the Angelus Temple – which became the home of her Foursquare movement – “is the result of many years of praying, thousands of hours of labor, and a singular vision. Mine.” She also drops Lundi, telling him she’s sure he “will be able to find another mode of employment,” which leaves him momentarily flustered before he’s able to regain his usual swagger. McPherson actions don’t represent well the faith she professes on stage.
The other characters in All For a Song are original to the book. I have to say, I didn’t like Darlene. She came off as a snob wanting to forget her roots. Her descendants show up in an interwoven plotline that takes place on Dorothy’s 107th birthday, and I found them just as annoying. While Lundi initially came off as a self-serving charmer, I think there was more to him. In the end, he recognizes his own failings and does the right thing. But it was Brent, the fiancé, I liked the most. Despite the embarrassment Dorothy’s actions caused him, he kept faith.
In All For a Song, Allison Pittman has created a marvelous look at the 1920’s. It was a time when so much changed, sandwiched as it was between the First World War and the Great Depression. There were advancements in fashion and entertainment, but people still thought a female preacher was scandalous. Pittman’s writing encapsulates all this, right down to Dorothy’s appreciation of having hot and cold water at the turn of a tap!
Publisher: Tyndale Fiction
Publication Date: February 2013
Page Count: 368
Thank you to Tyndale for my free copy of All For a Song, which I received in exchange for an honest review.