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Simple Gifts - eBook
Zondervan / 2009 / ePub
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When Marlene Queens returns from settling her late aunt's estate, life as she knows it falls apart! Her crazy elderly relatives are more eccentric and demanding than ever, and her old flame is acting mayor and recently widowed. But when citizens of the town want to put up a statue in memory of Marlene's father, she finds herself struggling to hold on to a secret that she's spent her entire life protecting. Lori Copeland, softcover, 329 pages.
Lori Copeland is a bestselling author whose books includde Now and Always, Simple Gifts, Unwrapping Christmas, and Monday Morning Faith, which was a finalist for the 2007 Christy Awards. Lori was inducted into the Springfield Writers Hall of Fame in 2000 and lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband and family.
Marlene Queens is a woman with great intentions stuck in the wrong situations. As the protagonist of Lori Coplands book Simple Gifts, we follow her through her return to her hometown of Parnass Springs. After running away from home to get married, she returns as an adult woman to settle the estate of her late Aunt Beth. She soon realizes that she will have to face the past she ran away from those many years ago.
Marlene intends to stay only a short while, but a long string of problems unravel that make her departure quite difficult. Vic, her childhood sweetheart, bears no grudge and attempts to renew the friendship he once had with her. Her Aunt Ingrid dominates Marlenes time. The elderly woman drags Marlene into a petty dispute with her deceased ex-husbands most recent wife. The two bitter women abuse any compassion that Marlene has. Shes also faced with the dilemma her fathers legacy has left the entire town. To make matters worse, her hopelessly dependant daughter Sara calls frequently begging for her to come back to their home.
Although a good-natured person, Marlene struggles deeply with telling the truth. The dilemmas she faces reveal the flaws of her personality. In her attempts to secure everyones happiness, she neglects the will of God and ends up causing more problems. She bends too easily to her daughter, a young woman who refuses to take care of herself. Instead of standing up for the truth, Marlene succumbs to her aunt. On Marlenes heart is a deep burden of guilt for the lies shes told and bad decisions she made. The troubling secret she refuses to tell Vic (or even Joe, his father) traps Marlene deeper into her forest of lies. The emotions she represses toward Vic expose her weakness with the truth. The romantic story between these two, however, gives the book an unforgettable spark.
Copeland appears to know very well what a woman in that position would do. The personality of Marlene is vivid and natural. Although all characters are viewed through Marlenes eyes, their intentions are portrayed well. A deep sense of sarcastic humor is strewn throughout the story to make the characters edgy and entertaining. She places Marlene in situations that try not only physical and mental issues, but also cause a deep, spiritual battle that all humans must face within. My only critique would be that despite the appearance of excellent trials, the characters were not as vivid as they could have been, and dialogue is at times simplistic and flat.
Lori Copeland shows excellent perception throughout Simple Gifts. I would not suggest this story to a younger crowd who are less life savvy, but a mature woman in her middle ages or later years would appreciate the book far more. Even if the dialogue is not wonderful, the book does carry with it a meaningful lesson: it teaches readers the value of being appreciative of the small gifts that the Lord gives us. Melissa Kerkhoff, Christian Book Previews.com
In this enjoyable inspirational romance, Copeland shows the talent that has sold more than three million copies of her books. Marlene Queens returns to her childhood small town of Parnass Springs, Mo., to help wrap up an aged aunt's affairs. Her kinsfolk are "nuttier than a Payday candy bar," especially her 92-year-old Aunt Ingrid, who's involved in a hilarious running dispute with her ex-husband's widow over where his amputated foot should be buried. Copeland's characters are more intriguing than the standard faith fiction fodder: Marlene is the child of two mentally challenged parents, her father is dead, and she's never met her mother. As the plot unfolds, Marlene's former pastor's penchant for wild inventions enlivens the story. His son, Marlene's childhood sweetheart (now conveniently widowed), is waiting for Marlene to come clean about her past and resume their former relationship. The dialogue is snappy and often humorous, and Copeland has a flair for fresh descriptions ("dealing with Ingrid was like getting a caramel stuck in your back teeth"). Although some plot elements are a stretch, especially the longevity of Marlene's secret or a contrived disaster that brings things to a climax, readers will find this novel of much higher quality than the usual inspirational romance. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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