Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: A Place Called Hope by Philip Gulley

Sam Gardiner is a Quaker preacher.  He's timid, he's perfectly content to spend the rest of his life pastoring a meeting in his hometown of Harmony.  When he inadvertently attends and prays for a newlywed couple as a favor for the sick Unitarian pastor, he creates an uproar as it is revealed that the couple is lesbian.

As the furor builds, Sam retreats to lick his wounds.  Now that their two sons have graduated from high school and left the nest, his wife Barbara takes a job as the assistant librarian in the town, and is not in the mood to let Sam feel sorry for himself.  Nevertheless Sam quits and finds that no other Quaker congregation will have him.  Suddenly the Gardiners are at a crossroads in their lives. 

When the Quakers in Hope (about 2 hrs away) offer a position to Sam, he jumps and Barbara tags along to investigate the chance to start anew.  The congregation is tiny, the physical facilities are gorgeous and in spite of some trepidations, the couple decides to move on.  At this point, the author begins pulling more rabbits out of the hat, and the story spins off into fairyland.

This is a sweet non-pretentious book with a "happily ever after" feeling, in spite of the wimpy main character, and the delightful feistiness of his wife.  It's a perfect read for an afternoon when the breeze is blowing, or the snow is falling, or the fog is rolling in: in short, when nothing will do but curling up with a cup of tea, a snuggly pet, and a non-controversial and heart-warming story.  My copy included the first chapter of the next book in the series, and for fans of the Jan Karon "Fr. Tim" series, this one will be quite welcome.

Title: A Place Called Hope
Author: Philip Gulley
Publisher:  Center Street (2014), e-galley 256 pages 
Genre: Christian fiction
Subject: perils of pastoring
Setting: fictious midwest towns
Source: egalley from the publisher via Net Galley
Why did I read this book now? The cover attracted me!


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