This debut novel has created quite a buzz and is currently #19 on Amazon's most sold list not to mention having nearly 500 reviews. The vast majority are 4 and 5 star but this book isn't without controversy so there are a number of low ratings (1 and 2 star) as well. So, what's all the fuss about?
Well, in a nutshell, this is Christian fiction pushing the limits so this book might not be for everyone. In fact, I wasn't sure about it myself and started reading with some trepidation. It wasn't long before Denton's charming Southern style captivated me. I didn't know there was such a thing as Southern Fiction, but apparently there is and The Hideaway is a prime example of all that is good in that genre.
This story is about family -- the one we are born into and the one we choose to belong to. It's real and raw -- unapologetically celebrating the lives and loves of a diverse cast of flawed characters. And, just as in real life, the author doesn't shy away from controversial subject matter. I appreciate her honesty and compassion and the fact that she moved me to dig beneath the surface about some hard-hitting issues. Sometimes it was uncomfortable -- especially Mags's story line -- but I feel like I have stretched and grown from it.
Some reviewers will say there isn't an inspirational thread. That The Hideaway is a mainstream book that just happens to have a Christian publisher. And I'll admit to agreeing with them at first. Then, somewhere around the half way mark I realized the inspiration was there, woven in an understated way throughout. It's especially evident in Mags's story. In some ways she hasn't lived an exemplary life but in her own eccentric way she has indeed been the hands and feet of Christ to so many.
There are two short church scenes -- subtle but significant. They reveal Mags's relationship with God and it really humbled me. This will sound crazy -- but I was suddenly overcome with such love and compassion for this complicated woman despite some of her past actions. I guess I stopped judging so I could actually see her as the daughter of God she is. Yes, I know she's just a character in a novel, but if I can't extend grace to fictional folk how can I ever hope to extend it to the real people in my life?
The dual timeline plot was a real draw for me. Sara, in present day, returns to The Hideaway to deal with the aftermath of her grandmother's death. In the process she learns a lot about herself and about the quirky grandmother who used to be an embarrassment when she was a teen. The reader is treated to flashbacks of Mags's life from her early twenties until her death. Past and present are exquisitely woven together into a rich tapestry of life and love, loss and hope.
I love that the B&B is called The Hideaway -- because that's what it became for Mags. It was her hiding place for a time and then it became her standing ground. The same can be said for Sara as well. It's details like this that make The Hideaway such an exquisite read and give avid readers so much to talk about. Definitely an excellent choice for a book club read.
Sara's grandmother passed away, and Sara must return to small town Sweet Bay, Alabama. Upon returning, she finds out that she has inherited her grandmother's B&B, along with responsibility for her long term housemates. As she restores the B&B, Sara uncovers Mag's past, and learns more than she has ever thought possible.
I loved the characters, and how Denton wove love and pain together with hope for the future, and how she connected the past with the present. I enjoyed the relationships that spanned generations, and seeing how the character's pasts impacted who they became later in life.
I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
The Hideaway is a wonderful blending of two distinct timelines wrapped around a truly southern tale with a wonderfully quirky cast of characters and a big old house full of secrets and stories.
This does not read as a debut novel - a couple of times I even had to read again the blurb on the back to convince myself that it was indeed a debut author, thats how good it was. The writing was clean and crisp and descriptions vivid that I could picture the old house and the picturesque setting.
Sara Jenkins has a successful boutique shop she runs in New Orleans and feels settled and content in her life. When a lawyer calls and drops the bomb shell that her grandmother has recently passed away leaving her The Hideaway Inn she drops everything and heads to Sweet Bay, Alabama to figure out what to do next. Should she tidy the house up as best she can and try and sell or does the home and its eclectic group of long stay residents deserve a further look?
This was the perfect read for a lazy day - gentle but intriguing at the same time with enough mystery and twist to keep the pages turning. Saras present day story is intersected with that of her grandmothers past with surprising revelation and reminds us all how previous our loved ones memories truly are - and how they vanish once they have gone if not protected. This duel storytelling drove the story on and made for a truly engaging tale which I loved.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via The Fiction Guild, and was not required to post a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Lauren K. Denton's debut novel embodies everything I enjoy about Southern fiction! From the charming setting of Sweet Bay, Alabama, to the quirky characters that inhabit The Hideaway, this story enchanted me from beginning to end. I loved the intertwining of past and present that led to an unexpected journey of self-discovery. A heartfelt tale of family and friendship, The Hideaway is sure to be one of my favorite summer reads!
I received a complimentary copy of this book. No review was required, and all thoughts expressed are my own.
The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton was a good debut. I feel like this author has a very promising career ahead of her. The story was well written and I enjoyed it. It was a clean read, maybe not a Christian book per se, but a nice story to read nonetheless. It's about a young woman getting to know her grandmother after the grandmother passed away. It was a time slip book. It was going back in the past when her grandmother was younger. Telling the reader what happened to make the grandmother the way she was. There was a bit of a romance between Sara and a young contractor. I liked it fine. I just didn't get all the feels of a love story. It was a bit of a melancholy read for me, but like I said it was well written.
*I was given this book by the publisher and was under no obligation to leave a review.