Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review: Where Hope Prevails

Where Hope Prevails (Return to the Canadian West #3). Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. 2016. Bethany House. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It wasn't just that there were far fewer potholes--the road through the thick woods leading to Coal Valley had clearly been graded in Beth's absence over the summer--but something else seemed strange.

Premise/plot: Where Hope Prevails is the third book in the Return to the Canadian West series by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. The series is set in the early twentieth century. (Beth does a lot of traveling back and forth by automobile.) Beth Thatcher, our heroine, teaches in the town of Coal Valley. She's in love with a Canadian Mountie, Jarrick Thornton, who is stationed in the region--but not in Coal Valley itself. He works from a much larger town, Lethbridge.

The book opens with her return to Coal Valley at the beginning of a new school year. A few things have changed this second year. First, she'll no longer be boarding with Molly. She'll have her own place, and, she's not excited about it. Second, there is another teacher in town, Robert Harris Hughes, and they'll have to work out between them how to best teach the children. He wants to divide up subjects between them. She wants to divide the children up by age. These two are as opposite as can be. And they seem destined to argue. If Jack wasn't such a huge part of the story, one might fear that these two who love to argue might stereotypically fall in love by the end of the book.

Much of the book focuses on WEDDING PLANS. Some might say that a lot happens--that there is always something happening--but whether that "something happening" is exciting or not might be up for question. How exciting is it to read about characters making fabric flowers and tulle bows and lamenting the lack of an arch? That's not fair to the book. It isn't. It really isn't. Readers see Beth interacting with the folk of Coal Valley--Molly and Frank and Marnie, mainly. Some town politics also come into it. There is an election for mayor in the middle of the book. But a large part of the "something happening" is Beth struggling with things emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I would still say that it is character-driven.

My thoughts: Since it feels like it has been ages since I've read the first two books in the series, and, since it hasn't been that many months since I've seen the seasons of the television show, I felt a bit out of sorts. What does the book have in common with the television show? How about just the character names? And the fact that Beth is a teacher and that Jack is a Mountie? I would say that the books have very, very, very little in common with the television show. I think one can argue that that is a definite strength. But also that it can prove frustrating...if you let it.

I like the series well enough. I do. I definitely like book Julie a bit better perhaps. And the book is not like a soap opera at all. (The tv show very much IS a soap opera.)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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