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Extended Audio Sample City of Tranquil Light: A Novel, by Bo Caldwell Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bo Caldwell Narrator: Bronson Pincho Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P’ing Ch’eng—City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love—and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

Told through Will and Katherine’s alternating viewpoints, and inspired by the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents, City of Tranquil Light is a tender and elegiac portrait of a young marriage set against the backdrop of the shifting face of a beautiful but torn nation. A deeply spiritual book, it shows how those who work to teach others often have the most to learn and is further evidence that Bo Caldwell writes “vividly and with great historical perspective” (San Jose Mercury News).

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Caldwell…traces the story of two young, hopeful Midwesterners—shy, bright Oklahoma farmer Will Kiehn and brave Cleveland deaconess Katherine Friesen—as they journey to the brink of China's civil war…Katherine’s diary entries are emotionally deft, capturing the romance and anxiety of cultural estrangement.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Caldwell…inspired by the story of her missionary grandparents…perceptively explores [their] deepening faith…while at the same time painting a vivid portrait of the country they came to love more deeply than their own.”


  • “This historical novel rings true throughout, no doubt because the author based the story on the lives of her grandparents, who were missionaries. Bronson Pinchot’s steady cadence works well for this quiet tale of faith, which moves from a small Midwestern church to the Middle Kingdom of China. Pinchot characterizes Will and Katherine’s faith in a soothing and rhythmic tone that gives it total authenticity…Those seeking a gentle and spiritually uplifting story will be engaged.”


  • “A handful of books each year convince me of their firm grip on what, for want of a better word, I would call truth. Bo Caldwell has seized on this material, based on the experience of her grandparents, and somehow conjured a miraculous story, one full of passion, historical interest, and spiritual questing. The North China Plain is vividly evoked, and the main characters, Will and Katherine, will not easily be forgotten. City of Tranquil Light is a poem in prose form, and it will lift any reader’s spirit as it lifted mine.”

    Jay Parini, author of The Last Station

  • City of Tranquil Light is a remarkable evocation of another time and place as well as a deeply moving love story, but, most of all, Bo Caldwell’s book is a profound meditation on the mysteries of belief. This novel is one that will linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned.”

    Ron Rash, author of Serena

  • “What ardent, dazzling souls emerge from these American missionaries in China. Two great lovers hand their story back and forth, the husband writing from widowed old age, the wife speaking from the immediacy of a diary she kept during their decades in pre-revolutionary China…A beautiful, searing book that leaves an indelible presence in the mind.”

    Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist’s Daughter

  • “Deceptively quiet, this portrait of a couple in love with each other, their work, and their adopted country explores the deepest questions of faith while richly illuminating a lost time and place.”

    Andrea Barrett, author of The Air We Breathe

  • City of Tranquil Light is just my kind of book. It is full of light, even at its darkest moments. I relished the hours spent with this dedicated and intrepid couple and will not soon forget them. Bo Caldwell has honored her missionary grandparents with her storytelling skills.”

    Gail Godwin, author of Unfinished Desires and Evensong

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Villate | 6/10/2011

    " I enjoyed this quiet, lovely story about Mennonite missionaries in China in the early 20th century. It could have done with another 50 or so pages of exposition, I think, but it told its story effectively. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Kaisu | 6/5/2011

    " Loved it! Cried and laughed with it. Seemed to touch every nook of my being, and felt like home. So sad when it came to an end... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carol | 4/22/2011

    " Very good book. It is a novel based on true story of missionaries to China and the hardships they endured... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Courtney | 4/20/2011

    " While there were times I was less than enthralled with a passage or a scene, on the whole, I found this to be a very captivating and moving read. "

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