Allow me to clear up this one matter before we begin: a Gentle Read doesn’t have to mean boring or pointless, and the story shouldn’t be based in faith -those books will be discussed in our Christian Fiction genre discussion. Instead Gentle Reads are meant to be stories based on everyday life, the small moments, friendships and family in small towns you can find anywhere. These are the quiet books you enjoy on a peaceful afternoon when the weather is mild. Now that you’re feeling all centered and mellow, shall we see what everyone chose to share?
Janet: Hawks Mountain by Elizabeth Sinclair is a contemporary, gentle romance set on Hawks Mountain and the nearby town of Carson, West Virginia. Josephine Walker Hawks better known as Granny Jo, her granddaughter, Becky Hawks, and newcomer Nick Hart round out the cast of main characters. Both Becky and Nick are seeking refuge from the world from very different painful experiences. They are smitten with each from their first meeting. However, it takes a long time for them to overcome their personal demons and embrace a much happier future.
Steve: Nights in Rodanthe, by Nicholas Sparks, tells the story of 45 year old Adrienne Willis, whose husband left her for another woman. Seeking solace, she agrees to help watch a friend’s inn for a week. Adrienne and the lone guest, surgeon Paul Flanner, who himself is having a change of life experience due to a patient that died in his care, share their life stories and fall hopelessly in love. Paul though is just in Rodanthe to see the husband of the patient who died, and then will be heading to Ecuador to join his estranged son in providing medical care to the poor. Paul heads out and the two keep their love alive through letters, and plan on being reunited in a year after his trip ends. However, their relationship does not have a happy ending, as Paul suffers a terrible tragedy. It’s a very easy read that tries to speak to the human spirit about love and redemption, but seems much too formulaic to provide anything more than a flat and predictable story.
Rosemary: Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson is the sixteenth in the Goldy Schulz culinary mystery series. When talented caterer Goldy and her family take in fellow chef Yolanda Garcia and her aunt, they really had no idea the trouble and danger Yolanda and Ferdinanda would bring to them. Goldy needs Yolanda’s help to keep her catering business up and running, but Yolanda is anxious and easily frightened. The fire that destroyed the home Yolanda and Ferdinanda were living in might have been caused by arson. It will be up to Goldy, investigating on the sly, and her husband Tom, a sheriff’s department investigator, to find the answers to this simmering mystery.
Megan: An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor is a charming and comical look at the quirks and traditions of a small Irish village. The year is 1964 and Barry Laverty has just finished medical. He has secured a position as an assistant to a GP in the small village of Ballybucklebo, in Northern Ireland. His excitement fades upon meeting Dr. Fingal O’Reilly. A burly and gruff man, Dr. O’Reilly’s motto is to never let the patient get the upper hand and he’s not above twisting the truth. Barry is initially dismayed, but quickly sees that he has a lot to learn about being a country doctor and Dr. O’Reilly may be the best teacher he has ever had. With its beautiful setting, colorful characters, and a healthy dose of Irish colloquialisms, this first book in a series will leave readers eager for more.
Chris: The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty tells the story of Laurel, a Chicagoan, returning to New Orleans to care for her father, who’s hospitalized after eye surgery. He unexpectedly dies in the hospital so Laurel stays on to bury him then goes to Mississippi to spend some time in her childhood home before relinquishing it to her father’s new, young, flakey wife. Being back home, unleashes many memories–good and bad–of her parents and their relationships. After confronting them, Laurel is able to move on and return to Chicago. What I liked most about this book was the wonderful way Welty establishes the sense of place. You feel that you’re in the South, surrounded by eccentric family members gossiping and lamenting the passing of a loved one; you can hear the dishes being moved around the buffet table and the creaking floors of an old homestead. Chris
Ann: Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith begins with a flurry of danger when a cobra is found in the offices of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency just as Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are about to have their bush tea. When the cobra is taken care of, Precious Ramotswe tackles a series of perplexing cases and provides advice to both clients and co-workers. As delightful as buying a new pair of shoes, this seventh book in the series is both charming and a bit old-fashioned.
Emma: Miss Julia to the Rescue by Ann B. Ross is the 13th entry in this popular series. Hazel Marie, her private eye husband J.D., and the twins have moved out of Miss Julia’s home, and husband Sam is on a trip to the Holy Land. Julia decides to redecorate the master bedroom and create an office for Sam. In the midst of the project Julia receives a strange late night telephone call from J.D. who’s been shot while investigating a case and is being held prisoner in a small town hospital in West Virginia. It’s Julia and Etta Mae to the rescue to bring J.D. back home and figure out what happened. At home the citizens are concerned about Agnes Whittman who has recently moved back home with a host of tattooed followers who are trying to convert the young carpenter working for Julia. A quick fun read!
Carol: In Emily Davis by Miss Read, retired schoolteacher, octogenarian Emily Davis passes away peacefully in the quiet English village she has spent most of her life in. When her best friend and house-mate, Miss Dolly Clare discovers her friend gone, she sets out to spread the news to Miss Davis’ other friends, former students and family. As the news spreads who fond memories of how Miss Davis improved so many lives, are shared. This sweet read kept my interest as the ups and downs of Miss Davis’ days are portrayed with compassion.
Dori: Cordelia Underwood, or, the Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League by Van Reid is the first of a series of books set in the late 19th century in Maine. It follows Cordelia, a feisty red-headed young woman, after she receives an inheritance from her sea-faring uncle and a cryptic note which may mean treasure! As she journeys to her inheritance, a parcel of land in the middle of Maine , she meets a large cast of eccentric characters and encounters adventures aplenty. Meanwhile, three nutty fellows decide to start a club named the Moosepath League and name Tobias Walton, one of Cordelia’s newfound friends, to be the chair. Originally published as a serial in a newspaper, the book’s numerous stories within stories involving balloonists, an escaped bear and ghost ships are funny, silly and charming. This is a genuine, old-fashioned yarn of a story where kindness wins the day.
Stacey: Persuasion by Jane Austen is a classic gentle read by one of my favorite authors, but this book hasn’t always been one of my favorite books. It was actually a BBC Film back in 1995 that helped me catch some of the finer moments in Anne Elliot’s journey to her happy ending. Anne is a dutiful daughter who has spent her life taking care of everyone’s needs but her own, including refusing the offer of marriage to a Frederick Wentworth, a man who had won her affection. Years later Anne is reunited with Frederick, now Captain of his own ship, but perhaps he is no longer seeking out her company. Or is he? The slow revealing of true feelings and Anne’s brave leap of faith at the end are what continue to persuades me this book is a great read!
Next time? We’re going to discuss the hot topic of … Romance! Books in this category appeal to readers who want immerse themselves in the emotion of love that have happy conclusions. Usually featuring a misunderstanding between the main characters or interference from outside of the relationship, the couple may have to face all kinds of obstacles before they find resolution. Romance books tend to have strong female characters in the spotlight, can be funny, and are often written as a series of titles with cross-over characters. Oh boy! Bring on the Romance!