More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA
Publishers WeeklyFolk artist Valentine seems to strive to emulate Jan Karon in this first novel, but is more aptly compared to Thomas Kinkade, another artist whose recent novel takes place in a New England community eerily like Dorsetville, which is Valentine's setting. In this town that time forgot, Catholic priest Father James frets over the archdiocese's decision to close down his church, leaving his aging parish without a place to worship. With the exception of some surprisingly mean-spirited depictions of Dorsetville's Congregationalists and a few other minor characters, Valentine offers a cast of saints: a young family fighting cancer, an elderly prayer warrior and several kind-underneath-it-all curmudgeons. Beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday, the novel is basically an introduction to these characters, which is to be expected this is the first in a series of Dorsetville books. Valentine favors redundancy, sometimes repeating information as if it were new. Moreover, the "miracle" at the end is confusing and appears from nowhere, as do a number of other plot contrivances such as, for example, the sudden appearance of a long-lost relative of the prayer warrior. Still, Valentine's prose is readable, and unlike most Christian fiction, this novel features devout Catholics, who resemble their fictional Protestant counterparts in every way except one: they drink. (When Father James is offered coffee heavily spiked with Jack Daniels, he enthusiastically accepts.) While Valentine's portrayal of the Catholic Church is undoubtedly sugarcoated, some readers will relish her prettified vision. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsA noted folk artist debuts with a warmly affirming story, the first in a series, of a congregation's attempts to save its church from being closed down. As in the popular Mitford novels, the setting is a fictional small town where everyone knows and cares for everyone else and even the curmudgeons have hearts of gold. In Dorsetville, in New England, the Catholic Church is St. Cecilia's, and its priests are Father James Flaherty and his elderly assistant, Father Keene. Dorsetville was once a prosperous mill town, but the congregation has shrunk, and on a bitterly cold Ash Wednesday morning, when the ancient furnace, as usual, is not working, Father James gets a call from his superior requesting a meeting to discuss the church's fate. Father James is a good and caring priest, and he's concerned that, if the church closes down, his elderly flock will be bereft of the comfort and community it offers, and aging Father Keene will have to go into a retirement home. Told that the church must be closed on Easter Sunday, Father James realizes that only a miracle will save it. As he worries, prayers are answered in unexpected ways: much-liked parishioner Bob, ill with cancer, undergoes a successful bone marrow transplant; Father Keene, lost in a snowstorm, is found sheltering in widow Harriet Bedford's house; and Harriet, who has been visiting her sister, a Mother Superior, is reunited with her long-lost granddaughter. St. Cecilia's itself still needs a miracle, which it seems to get when a hologram of the Virgin Mary, created by young computer whiz Matthew, appears in the church. Though crowds flock to see it, Easter Sunday is only hours away. But fittingly, on Easter morning Father James receivesa letter that in its way offers a miraculous solution to his problems. A beguiling mix of characters in a sunny story that faithfully emphasizes the positive. Sweet soulfood only.
Write a Review
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >