Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beth Webb Hart's "Love, Charleston"

_240_360_Book.240.cover.jpgWhen I first started reading "Love, Charleston" I did not expect to be impressed. On the surface, it looked like a love/family drama story with a little Christianity mixed in. Once I began reading, I could not put it down. While the story does follow the basic pattern I expected, widower pastor finds love at the church he wasn't sure he wanted to preach at, the story also brings in some real world, and unexpected, concerns. As a mom who has struggled with post-partum depression, I was brought to tears by one of the character's harrowing experience. The story also finds several characters dealing with the repercussions of adultery. While the characters are good citizens and fine Christians, they become "real" to the reader, because they are not perfect. Their struggles ring true and there is something we can relate to.

In the story, Pastor Roy Summerall leaves his small town church to be the pastor of a major Charleston congregation. He is a widower who has been raising his daughter alone for five years. He is not sure he will "fit in" in Charleston because of his "good ole' boy" country ways. In Charleston, he reconnects with sisters Anne and Lish, and their cousin Della, whom he knew as a child. Anne is a never married bell ringer at his church in Charleston, Lish is a doctor turned stay at home mommy blogger, and Della is a struggling writer who makes ends meet by teaching English at a posh all girl's school. The characters become real through their struggles. Roy must learn to love the congregation he had resented as a youth. Anne must question her faith and the promise she received from God that she would find a husband if she would just "stay and wait." Lish, who by all accounts, is a perfect super-mom finds herself in a battle with severe post-partum depression bordering psychosis, and a philandering husband. Della, who thinks she can provide a better life for herself and her daughter by leaving her husband for her former fiance finds that love and faith can truly conquer all. Roy and Anne find themselves falling in love through a series of letters and emails, while they both help Lish with her mental problems. I enjoyed seeing the characters evolve and grow, however the story feels unfinished. The end leaves us still wondering about Roy and Anne's future, about Lish's recovery, about Della's new book. The story is strong until the last chapter, which feels as though it was rushed for resolution. Overall though, I enjoyed "Love, Charleston."

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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