Meet Savannah Barrington, a mother of two with a husband who just had an affair and is now asking for a divorce. This sounds like the start to any number of novels, but Where Hope Begins avoids falling into a trap of resentment and despair and focuses instead on hope and reconciliation. When Savannah’s husband reveals his affair, she decides to retreat to her family’s lake house to learn to cope with her new reality. There she meets an elderly neighbor, her rather attractive nephew, and his young daughter. As she grows closer to their family, the older woman reminds her how to find hope and faith in seemingly impossible situations.
This novel drew me in quickly from the first few pages. Savannah is a well written, authentic character and I became completely invested in her story. She’s been put through horrible circumstances and understandably struggles with her faith and her future. As a result, we get a glimpse of the insecurities, anger, and jealousy that felt extremely real. However, she’s also got a terrific sense of humor and a sarcasm streak that rivals my own. It doesn’t hurt to throw a dashing Southern gentlemen in her path and watch the two of them connect. I laughed and nodded in agreement at this line:
“There is something inherently attractive about a man that quotes Jane Austen”
Catherine West’s descriptions of Savannah’s struggle to recapture her faith is surprisingly relatable. Sometimes Christian fiction comes across as preachy or unrealistically optimistic. This focused more on the doubts, questions, and drifting away that affects every believer. I can easily imagine what it’s like to try to go to church after experiencing loss or Savannah’s realization that she can’t remember the last time she prayed for her husband. It’s a gentle reminder to appreciate and continue to work/pray to keep what I have in my life and reach out in helpful ways to those who are hurting, without any accompanying judgement.
On a side note, I adored the quotes West chose to include at the beginning of each chapter. Normally, I merely glance at them and move on, but these were clearly carefully selected. I actually started looking forward to the chapter breaks to see which lines West would choose next. The inclusion of flashbacks is another potential gimmick that was handled well in this novel. They created intriguing additions to Savannah’s history and were used sparingly enough to avoid become tedious.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it – Mark Twain”
“If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life – Oscar Wilde”
Despite the difficult topics that include suicide, adultery, and terminal illness, this novel is ultimately uplifting and designed to showcase strength and hope in unimaginable circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one and would recommend it to anyone looking for a solid relationship based fiction novel.
About Where Hope Begins
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 22, 2018)
Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .
Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.
But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.
Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.
About Catherine West
Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew). Her most recent novel, The Memory of You, released March 2017 and Where Hope Begins releases in May 2018. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com.
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