Heart of the Country

Heart of the Country

3.9 35
by Rene Gutteridge, John Ward

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Faith and Luke Carraday have it all. Faith is a beautiful singer turned socialite while Luke is an up-and-coming businessman. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, he’s on the fast track as a rising young executive, and Faith is settling comfortably into

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Faith and Luke Carraday have it all. Faith is a beautiful singer turned socialite while Luke is an up-and-coming businessman. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, he’s on the fast track as a rising young executive, and Faith is settling comfortably into her role as his wife.When rumors of the Michovs’ involvement in a Ponzi scheme reach Faith, she turns to Luke for confirmation, and he assures her that all is well. But when Luke is arrested, Faith can’t understand why he would lie to her, and she runs home to the farm and the family she turned her back on years ago. Meanwhile, Luke is forced to turn to his own family for help as he desperately tries to untangle himself from his mistakes. Can two prodigals return to families they abandoned, and will those families find the grace to forgive and forget? Will a marriage survive betrayal when there is nowhere to run but home?

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Tyndale House Publishers
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Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 John Ward
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-4829-2



It was a strange thing to know that I was to become a memory to them. I kept searching for pain because pain means life. Instead, I smelled Lip Smackers on Olivia's pale-pink lips. I heard Faith's high-pitched giggles that still sounded childish even though she was growing into a young woman. I couldn't move my arms, but against my fingertips, I felt their hair, their shoelaces, their sticky cheeks.

I knew this would break their hearts into thousands of tiny pieces that one lifetime couldn't mend.

"Ma'am? Ma'am?"

I wished that he knew my name. I wanted somebody to know my name. The sirens wailed and screamed and I wondered if I was coming and going out of consciousness or if that's just how sirens sounded from the inside.

Above me, out of a light misty-gray that seemed like steam from a shower, I saw a man's face come into view. His eyes were frantic but gorgeous and blue. Above him I caught my reflection against a long metal strip that ran the length of the ambulance. There was a familiarity to him, but that was true of everyone in Columbus County. If I didn't know you, I knew your mom or your grandpa or your second cousin.

"Blood pressure ..."

The words faded, just like the sirens, and his beautiful eyes retreated to a far place that I longed to reach for. I only saw the girls now, their faces passing by me like living, breathing photographs. And Calvin standing by his horse.

I wanted to be more than a memory. I hated that for the rest of their days they would only be able to touch me in their minds or set their gazes on a tiny glimpse captured by a camera.

A mother's heart cannot let go. Not even to a father who had all the love in the world to offer them. I could never be replaced.

I looked again to that long metal reflection above me. I was covered in blankets. The EMT was covered in blood, and I thought that was strange. Warm and cold sensations drifted through my body, and I searched again for any sign of pain. My face looked distorted against the metal, like in a fun house mirror, except nothing else seemed out of proportion.

"Fourteen minutes out!"

Yes, it was a long way to the hospital when you lived in the country. Only one winding road led through our neck of the woods. Columbus County did not have a well-designed road system. The state was involved in a plan to pave "farm to market" roads, the idea being to improve transportation of tobacco, corn, sweet potatoes, cotton, soybeans, and livestock to places like Whiteville and Tabor City, where the train tracks ran. But instead of designing a modern road system, they paved the old dirt roads that had generally followed horse and carriage paths. They once connected neighboring farms, working around and over the swampy areas, resulting in a system of meandering roads. I could feel the ambulance hugging the curves of the concrete. It was often on these roads where I heard the music play.

I closed my eyes, or maybe they were already closed. I told myself to live, no matter what, to live. And then I felt it, a tiny prick of pain in my heel.


Excerpted from HEART OF THE COUNTRY by RENE GUTTERIDGE, JOHN WARD, Sarah Mason. Copyright © 2011 John Ward. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Heart of the Country 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Its_Time_Mamaw More than 1 year ago
Faith Carraway is a country girl turned socialite. She is married to Luke Carraway and madly in love. She wants for nothing. Before she married Luke she lived to sing but no longer has time for her passion of song or for her family back home. Luke's brother is not to accepting of Faith in the Carraway family and does not think this little country girl fits into the Carraway's social circles. Faith and Luke live the fairy tale relationship until Luke decides to leave the family business and invest in a hedge fund with the Michov Brothers. Then the fairy tale turns into a nightmare when the Michov's alleged Ponzi scheme threatens Luke's livelihood and his marriage. Faith feels betrayed by his lies and possible involvement in this scheme. Without even a backwards glance she leaves her socialite life behind and heads back to her country life to stay with her father and get her life back on track. Her sister is not too happy to have Faith return home like the Prodigal daughter. But her father is ecstatic to have his little girl back home. There is so many facets to Faith's story. The pending lose of her marriage, her estranged relationship with her sister and the nurturing relationship with her father. She finds her roots to be healing and it draws her into a renewal of her spirit. She struggles to accept God's will in her life and can't seem to figure out where she belongs or where she is headed in life. So many people go through these same trials in their life. God has a plan and we don't always agree with that plan. But if we just let go and let God do his job His plan will be fulfilled. I highly recommend this book. I rate this book a 5 out of 5. Disclosure I purchased a copy of this book from Barnes and Noble and reviewed book for Tyndale House Publishing . I was in no way compensated for this review it is my own opinion.
iblog4books More than 1 year ago
Heart of the Country is a sweet book that made for a good one-time read. The story is sweet, and I enjoyed reading this prodigal story. However, it seemed to be missing something (though I'm not quite sure what!). This is a novelization of a movie/screenplay, so perhaps that type of novel just isn't for me. Overall, though, it's a good book, and I'm glad I read it. [3 stars]
rlighthouse More than 1 year ago
Good Story Once I got through the first few chapters I was hooked and had to know what happened when Faith went  back home to her family.  Each chapter was written from a different person's point of view, Faith, her sister Olivia, Faith's husband Luke, her mom, Catherine and her dad, Calvin.  I think trying to figure out who Catherine was is what made me hesitant to like the book but once I figured out that she was Faith's dead mother I was able to understand and enjoy the book.
CathyRN More than 1 year ago
At first I didn't think I'd like this as each chapter is from a different character but once I got past the first 3 or 4 chapters I was hooked. Faith left her family 10 years before when her mother died. She met Luke and they had a great marriage and business. Then Luke is arrested and Faith leaves New York to return to the family home. Her sister Olivia has taken care of their dad since Faith left. Faith's return causes some family issues. This is a good story of family issues, losing then finding one's way back and most of all faith in God and Jesus.
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
Fabulous book! Instead of one prodigal in this book there are two. Luke and Faith have found each other but are both running from their families and are trying to create a fairy tale life. When it comes crashing down as Luke fears he will be arrested for fraud, Faith runs, but this time back to her family, as Luke to turns to his family for help. Will they find the healing and forgiveness they need? Will they be able to find each other again? This story gives lots of different perspectives as it starts with Catherine’s dying moments and shifts back and forth between Faith, Olivia and Luke: Catherine is Faith and Olivia’s mother who died some years earlier and Luke is Faith’s husband. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it highly!
BookReaderLW More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It spoke volumes on marriage and making it through the tough times.
CGirl87 More than 1 year ago
This novel follows the early years of the marriage of the main characters, Faith and Luke. As a socialite and a successful businessman, they live a charmed life. However, when their world comes crashing down and Luke is arrested, Faith fleas back to her childhood home in the country to sort out her life.    I did feel that the back-story woven into the narrative was hard to follow at first. But other than that, I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it for someone looking for a unique Christian novel. 
BeachNana8 More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic novel dealing with family issues, marriage problems, aging parents, cancer, business issues, and city versus country living. Can the hero Luke who married a country girl Faith fix his company and prevent its total collapse? Will Faith return to Luke and the city? What did their father do that truly startled his daughters, Faith and Olivia? What do you think this story was trying to teach you about older people through the actions of Faith’s father? This is a book dealing with so many family issues and twists and turns you won’t want to put it down.
meitniear More than 1 year ago
An excellent story about family, this is a prodigal son story about how you can always go home again. I liked the characters and their different personalities. I would have liked to have more story about Luke's family and a little better tie-up to some of the smaller story lines at the end of the book. It felt like the end was finished abruptly to me even though all of the major threads were completed. Also this book is written from multiple first person views so if you're not a fan of that style of book you may not enjoy this one as much. Despite those issues, I would still highly recommend this book to fans of family/love stories. Be warned, though, this book will definitely pull at your heart.
BeccaCarter More than 1 year ago
Disappointing read The plot for this book sounds like it could be good, but I was thrown off by the choice of writing style. First-person point of view works when the author sticks with just one character, but short chapters where each is from a different character, all are first-person and the narrative jumps all over the place in time as well? It was just a mess. I couldn’t fall for the characters and unfortunately, didn’t care what happened to them.
millstreetreader More than 1 year ago
 have not seen the movie Heart of the Country but chose to read the novelization of the film when I saw Rene Gutteridge had taken on the project of turning the script into a novel.  In it, Faith and Luke have what seems to be an ideal marriage until Luke's firm is charged with operating a massive ponsi scheme.  When Luke refuses to answer Faith's questions about his involvement, she flees New York City, escaping back to her childhood farm and a family she had left years before.  Basically, the story is a double "prodigal son's" story.  Faith is welcomed back by her father, but her sister Olivia harbors resentment over the 10 year absence and Faith's pattern of running from adversity instead of dealing with it.  Olivia is the dutiful sibling and her jealousy, despite having a good marriage and healthy kids, runs deep.  I am sure this sibling rivalry would play well in a movie; on paper, it seemed a little forced.  They would seem to be on the road to mending and then Olivia would get upset again.  Too much on/off for me. Meanwhile Luke has his own "prodigal" story.  Before joining the Michov Investment firm he had been partner in his father's firm, along side his older brother Jake.  While both his father and brother immediately stand beside the younger sibling to help defend him, Luke feels unworthy of their continuing trust and help.  Hurt that Faith has left him, he believes that his own family sees her disappearance as proof that she was not the "right" wife for him. Often when we read a book, we get the feeling that it would make a good movie.  For me, that is usually because the characters are complex and the story compelling.  This time, as I read, I could tell that this was a recreation of one acting scene after another.  Any character development had to be blended into the dialogue or simple action.  Missing were the extras that in a book build the flavor of the setting  -- the interaction of place, time, and circumstances. To be honest, there are slight attempts at establishing the flavor -- the horse barn, the old church, and such, but all are presented foremost as places of action, not vehicles to developing deeper understanding.  A trip to New York by Faith and her father attempts to do this, but my brain kept saying, "Well, this would be interesting to watch on screen but there really hasn't been any attempt to capture that same feeling in words." My final vote is that this would be a good read for a young romantic who just can't find enough other romances to read (Is that possible?)  Possibly someone who was enthralled with the movie would want to give the book a try.  If you have never read Rene Gutteridge before, I would simply suggest you preview her other writings before making a choice.
thedeena63 More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Rene Gutteridge novels, so when I discovered she had collaborated on this novelization I was eager to read the book. While I didn't enjoy "Heart of the Country" as much as some of her other books, it was still a pleasant reading experience. Faith and Luke just never really came to life for me. I get into stories when the characters feel like people I could sit across a table from and talk to them face to face. Characters that get into situations that make me want to pray for them, even though they aren't real people. That just never happened for me. The story was good, but similar. I wouldn't say I struggled to finish the book...but I was happy to move on to something else to read right away. No sense of emotion lingered after I turned the final page. Just "well, that was good"...and off to the next novel. My thanks to my friends at Tyndale Publishing for my advance copy in exchange for an honest review. "Heart of the Country" was a good book...it just wasn't a great book.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
I thought Heart of the Country aS an emotional story. The characters seemed real with real issues to overcome. Each chapter was in a different character's point of view. Which I found to be confusing at first. Once I got used to it, the rest of the novel flowed well. 4 stars
SophiesMindset More than 1 year ago
I almost didn't make it past chapter 3 (20 pages in). The story moves slowly, but when it does move you really don't have a good sense of time. The characters are just alright - I know some folks like are described, but I never connected to *any* of characters. Big problem. This is my second Gutteridge book, and I had high hopes. I really enjoyed her book "misery loves company" (gave it 5 stars - which is rare for me!) and expected to impressed again. I don't know if this book fell flat because of Ward's involvement and direction, or if this is more like Gutteridge's normal work and "misery loves company" was a fluke. All in all it's not a bad story, but it's not a particularly great or compelling one. This book is a disappointment.
m_duncan1 More than 1 year ago
A beautiful story of faith, family and forgiveness. I wasn't sure I was going to like the book because it was based off a screenplay and I wasn't sure how it would translate. Also, I had already seen the movie (I watched it before I even knew there was a book) and loved the movie, so I had pretty high standards. But, the author did a beautiful job! The book is written in multiple first-person format, which made me fall in love with the characters. I felt I knew each of them on a personal level and really enjoyed seeing the story unfold from each person's point of view. This story is a modern day retelling of the prodigal son and the message of faith, forgiveness and family, really stand out through the whole book. I loved this book and will definitely be recommending it to others.
kristen4mk More than 1 year ago
Although I was fully prepared to love this book and be engaged, as I really enjoy Ms. Gutteridge's writing and sense of humor, I had such a hard time not only getting in to this book, but truly liking it as we went along. Luke and Faith are madly in love; he from a wealthy family, she, a small town girl. It seems to be a match none the less, and for a while their lives are idyllic. However, Luke is busted for what seems to be his part in a Ponzi scheme, and when Faith finds out she literally hits the road to go back "home" - not really even listening to his explanation. Her problems are compounded when she arrives, as she finds out her father is very sick and her sister is not terribly interested in having a relationship with her. A contemporary take on the story of the prodigal, this book was readable but not fully engaging or even especially memorable for me personally.
Miss_CindyH More than 1 year ago
I must admit this book made me cry a few times. The story was told from multiple first person points of view. Each chapter had the name of the character that was speaking/thinking. This lent itself to developing the characters in a real and meaningful way as you got an inside look at each of them. The time frame went back and forth as Catherine was intermixed throughout the story, though she was no longer there. In my opinion that did not hinder the story. Lessons on forgiveness, honesty, character, family bonds, faithfulness, unconditional love, temptation, selfishness and selflessness where all touched upon. Each character was faced with themselves and their choice to do the right thing. God's constant presence and love in our lives was woven throughout. While not attempting to spoil the story, I must admit Lee really pulled me. Talk about a conflict of emotions! Something for everyone to relate to and learn from. Good job Rene Gutteridge!
AnotherBibliophile More than 1 year ago
Beautiful and Tender Story - - This book is very enjoyable. It makes me laugh and cry. The talent of the writers is very impressive. The jumping from one character's voice to another's took some getting used to, but it did fill in the story very well. I love writing that is so descriptive and tells a sweet and gentle story about family and faith. The touching theme was lightened up with humorous remarks. This is creatively and beautifully written.
thecraftyhome1 More than 1 year ago
Heart of the Country by Rene Gutterridge is based on the screenplay by John Ward. Faith and Luke seem to have the perfect relationship. Faith is beautiful, down to earth and can relate to most anyone. Luke is wealthy, influential in the New York business world, from a powerful family, and makes Faith laugh. But when their marriage hits a hiccup and Faith runs they learn slowly that family is all you can trust, and running doesn't get you anywhere. The book is written with each chapter being from a different characters perspective. At first it was hard to get used to this constant shift but after a few chapters I really enjoyed it. This book had me crying in many spots and really has some great lessons about family and sticking things through and handling grief together. I gave this book three stars. It was great and I recommend it.
dgottreu More than 1 year ago
Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge & John Ward is a wonderful story of love, betrayal, forgiveness, and going home again. The story is told in a first person format through Faith, Luke, Olivia, Catherine, and Calvin the main characters in the story. Faith and Luke are happily married, living in New York City, and by the standards of the world they have it all but things fall apart when Luke becomes involved in a Ponzi scheme. Faith does not give Luke a chance to explain but immediately leaves for her father’s home in North Carolina. Faith’s father, Calvin, is delighted to have her home but her sister Olivia is quite upset with Faith’s return. Luke is hurt by Faith’s leaving and finally has to turn to his family for help in getting through all the problems caused by his desire to be on his own and to make his fortune. The story has the feeling of the Prodigal Son in the Bible and just like him, Faith and Luke have to face their problems head on and admit their mistakes and then ask for forgiveness from their families and God. Rene did an excellent job in the development of the characters and all the scenes that took place in the story. For me the characters came to life and with the story being told in a first-person conversational style, I felt as if I were sitting and talking with each character. Scenes were so well developed that I could feel what was going on and I was right in the middle of the action. The struggles that Faith and Luke were having with each other and with their families was so well portrayed that I was shedding tears with them and urging them on to get their lives back on track. I liked the addition of Catherine’s thoughts to the story for it helped to show why Faith and Olivia felt as they did about each other. I highly recommend this book to all who like a love story with a good ending even if the couple have to go through hard times to reach the good times. Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
.I glanced at the movie for this book before I started reading and I will be honest, I was worried I might not like the book. But I had to remind myself that books are almost always better than movies and that was the case for Heart of the Country. I really enjoyed this modern telling of the prodigal. I liked being in the head of the older sister (Olivia) who stayed with her dad while her younger sister (Faith) left --something I can relate to personally -- and watching her heart soften and their relationship heal. There is a very moving moment that brought me to tears (always a good sign that I like a book) when Luke's dad stands up for his son. A beautiful picture of what Christ does for us. It reminded me of how God uses me and my story, as messy as it is, to help others. I know He has my back and He's not ashamed of me because I am His daughter. There are a few twists and turns in the plot that will having you flipping pages to find out what happens next and how God will heal Faith and Luke's marriage. This is a great Genesis 5020 story. After reading the book I think I can appreciate the movie more and plan on giving it another chance now that I have a better understanding of the characters. Overall, I enjoyed this book and recommend it as a great reminder of Christ's amazing love for us all. A copy of this book was given to me by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
jramos More than 1 year ago
This book was wow. I don't even have words to describe it. I have read many books over the years (obviously) but this one hit me so hard. I haven't read a book that so close to my own reality. I literally cried through the whole thing. Faith leaves her country roots and meets the rich and powerful Luke Carraday. They fall completely in love and quick get married. Even though Luke's brother (whom he has always looked up to) doesn't approve of her, he doesn't let anyone get in the way of their love.  With the encouragement and support of Faith, Luke goes to his father to venture out on his own and start a name for himself away from his father and brother.  Luke gets arrested after the Michov Borthers go down for a Ponzi scheme. Faith doesn't understand what is going on so when Luke won't tell her anything, she packs up and goes back home. Luke is left with having to depend on his family to dig him out of the mess he created but at the expense of his wife.  As the two try to repair their lives and hearts, Faith's world comes crashing down with the news of her father having brain cancer. She is left with no choice but to reach out to her husband for help.  My dad has anaplastic astrocytoma and it had taken its course through him so you can just imagine how real this book was to me. The love and restoration was something that we all need to be reminded of. With each huge trial they faced you saw the hardship it is to let God take control. This book was such an encouragement. I hope you all get to read this book and see the movie. It is really life changing. 
sjziegler More than 1 year ago
booksbysteph says "Character Conflict & Family Dynamics are Amazing" After sixty-two days, Luke Carraway knew Faith Barnett was his soul mate. Since the Carraway family is beyond wealthy, they believe Faith is with Luke for his money. Luke and Faith leave their families out and elope. Then Luke decides to leave the family company to be independent and make a name for himself with competitors, the Michov Brothers. Faith starts to overhear conversations about the Michov Brothers being a part of a Ponzi scheme. "[A] Ponzi scheme is when a fund...takes the money from new investors and uses it to pay off existing investors' returns on investments. It gives the illusion of profit when there isn't any." Luke promises Faith that he is not involved in anything illegal. But her faith in Luke is shattered when the SEC arrests him "for conspiracy to commit federal securities fraud." When Luke refuses to answer any of Faith's questions, she packs up her belongings and goes to the only place she can - Columbus County, North Carolina - her family's home. This is difficult for her. The reason why Faith left is because the community wanted her to pick up on the life her mother left behind when she died. But Faith has never really dealt with her mother's death. She left the rest of her family to deal with losing her as well. Now, ten years later, there are mixed emotions about Faith's return.  Back in New York, Luke's scandal has caused everyone to turn away from him. Faith was just the first. Luke is alone and facing prison time, wondering the ways he could kill himself while inside. There is only one direction for Luke to turn and it goes against everything he was trying to do by himself. Plus, he has not heard from Faith and needs to decide whether to fight for her or let her go for betraying their vows. Unexpected news puts a new twist on everything and everyone. I GIVE THIS BOOK: 5 Stars It has been so long since I have read a book with so much realistic content, situations and emotions. The character conflict is amazing. The author uses real life circumstances and writes how real people would act in that situation. Independence, pride, ethics, vows, family and death are just a few of the struggles the characters of this book have to deal with. Family dynamics play an extremely large role in this story. I found myself comparing my family to those of the two main characters, Luke and Faith. I will say that some actions the family members took surprised me. I struggled with this book in the sense that I felt connected to the story at my very core. While the 400+ pages seem daunting, it is well worth it. It is a quick read because you will not want to put it down. And I did not. Very emotional. Have a tissue handy.  Until next time, live life one page at a time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SappyQ More than 1 year ago
This keeps you wanting to know what will happen next. Loved the characters and the faith that is portrayed.