Though it was years ago, Ben Buckley has never gotten over the loss of his wife. But even more than the mystery surrounding her death is the radical change that occurred in her life shortly beforehand. Their marriage was unusually happy--until she met a woman who "turned her on to religion." Baffled, angry, and still feeling guilty for the way he treated Chloe those final weeks, Ben now lives behind the protective walls of severed relationships...
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Sometimes a Light Surprises

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Though it was years ago, Ben Buckley has never gotten over the loss of his wife. But even more than the mystery surrounding her death is the radical change that occurred in her life shortly beforehand. Their marriage was unusually happy--until she met a woman who "turned her on to religion." Baffled, angry, and still feeling guilty for the way he treated Chloe those final weeks, Ben now lives behind the protective walls of severed relationships and a rigid work routine.

When two unlikely people enter his narrow world, Ben's view of his life begins to change, and gradually the barriers he's erected around himself come tumbling down.

For readers who enjoy character-driven, thought-provoking stories that stay with them long after the last page is turned.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Christy Award-winning evangelical Christian author Turner offers fans a bittersweet introspective tale of a widower's internal journey through grief. Ben Buckley lost his wife, Chloe, years earlier, but has never gotten over the loss. Ben lives each day looking back, recalling his wife's faith and his resentment of it, and now regretting his callousness toward it. Ben, who owns Upstate Home and Garden Bazaar, pesters his assistant, Caroline, with quirky sayings and phrases that leave her both dismayed and baffled. In turn, Caroline puzzles over Ben's wife's death while attempting to make sense of her own life. Enter Kelly Kovatch, 20-year-old daughter of the deceased Chloe's friend, whom Ben despises. Against all reason, Ben hires the girl and alternately shuns or seeks her advice as he attempts to rebuild severely damaged relationships with his own adult children. Turner's work is tedious at many points; still, her loyal fans will continue to expect with eagerness her next novel despite the sluggish pace of this one. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441204394
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 304,485
  • File size: 682 KB

Meet the Author

Jamie Langston Turner, author of six novels and winner of two Christy Awards, has been a teacher for thirty-seven years. Currently a professor of creative writing at Bob Jones University, she lives with her husband in Greenville, South Carolina.

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good story, not a page turner for me

    In catching up on some of my reading I have finished Sometimes a Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner.

    This is the story of widowed Ben Buckley, his secretary Caroline, a young girl he hires Kelly, and one of his daughters Erin. Each character has huge issues . Mr Buckley lives his life one ritual after another since the murder of his wife over twenty years ago. Caroline loves watching and reading mysteries and has a troubled relationship with her son. Kelly is a young girl from a large family who is very surprised to be hired by Mr. Buckley. She faces ridicule from her coworkers and continues to do what she can to be a light to them.. Erin is full of bitterness because of her father's actions after her mother's death.

    I will admit this story was not a page turner for me. I enjoyed the story, but it seemed to move slowly and I had trouble getting into it. I think the reader will be able to find someone to relate to in this story and their struggles.

    I appreciated the theme of light in this book. As I was reading it reminded me of senior year English and studying themes in various books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 26, 2009

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    A Bit too Slow for my Liking

    This is a book about family. It's a story that you can't read fast, you have to let it sink in slowly. For readers familiar with Turner's previous works, the setting returns to Derby, South Carolina where folks in the town like to take things slow and easy. This time we're introduced to Ben, a widower who's never gotten over the unsolved murder of his wife. Due to his unresolved feelings, his relationships with his children have severely declined over the years. It's sad to see how a simple act can change the course of a person's personality and communication for the rest of their lives. I thought it was extremely interesting to read about Ben's relationship to the Kovatch family. I felt that Ben's reaction to the strict conservativeness of the Kovatch family to be quite spot on. It may be playing on stereotypes or pre-judgments but I think many people feel this way about people who act like the family and that would probably have been what they were thinking as well. Throughout the book we learn about Ben's family and the Kovatch family as well as Ben's assistant Caroline and her family. Each of these families is going through situations that that test how they act as a unit and the circumstances that cause them to be this way.

    Even though I liked the book, there was something about it that was a bit off. Normally I'm a huge fan of Turner's books. Even though they are a slow read, usually the story just unravels gently and wraps you in. This time however, I never really felt like I could get into the story. It just never grabbed me like the other books had done. I couldn't connect to any of the characters, in fact they all seemed like they were keeping an arm's length away from me. A slight disappointment was the lack of characters from the other books, that usually tie them all together. I think there was a brief cameo of a past character, but it didn't feel like it was enough. I also felt that the mystery was never tied up, it was just left hanging. I understand why this would be the case, but it just very unsatisfying to have so much effort going into it and not have a final outcome. Overall I would have to say this probably was not one of my favorite books by Turner. It's a good read but it just didn't really warm up to me. I'm hoping that there will be another book featuring these characters because I feel that there is more to the story that needs to be told.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

    Most readers will recognize themselves in one of the characters

    Touching story offers hope and encouragement to anybody suffering from the unrewarding obsession with a job, a hobby or a grudge. Jamie Langston Turner has created yet another story about how one individual's Christ-like attitude towards life can cause small ripples that spread out and result in positive changes in so many. Turner's characters always inspire the reader to become a better person.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

    Good read

    The one female lead character, we find out was home schooled - which for me, instantly made the book more in touch with my life. I could easily relate to the characters because they were well established and not some flat, one dimensional character. All the characters were well developed which lent even more credibility to the book and the author's work. When reading a book I like to 'know' the characters, even if I don't always agree with them. Ben Buckley's character, while the other characters were sometimes annoyed at his useless information, I liked it as I am also one who likes to gather what some consider 'useless' information. I felt pulled into the character's lives, such as one of Ben's daughters and wanting to yell at her to forgive her father, wanting to tell another one to give up her amateur crime detective work, and cheering on the young home school graduate.
    When I first started reading the book it was a little hard to get into because the story takes awhile to pick up but I am glad that I stayed with it because the rest of the book well made up for the slow start. I enjoyed how the author weaved in people of God at just the right time as well as seeing some of the characters hearts soften - even if they don't yet recognize it's God working in them. It was a great way to incorporate a great book and then a reader can see and recognize how God is present in their lives right now - it could be something as small as providing a nice park ranger and tire guy when you have a flat with three of your children with you - but He is there with you and is always working some of His great Works. Regardless of the circumstances though, good or bad, this book definitely makes me want to keep my eyes open for even more of Him and praise Him for it when I recognize it. So grab this book and get reading, I can almost guarantee you'll like it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sometimes A Light Surprises

    Sometimes a Light Surprises, in one word: Perfection. I just finished this book, but I wish I could go back and read it all again. Ben Buckley is a man who has been suffering for over twenty years. In all the years since his wife's murder, Ben has built walls around his safe little world, even shutting out his own children. Ben hires a young woman named Kelly whose simple faith and outlook on life causes him to examine his strange world and rituals. Slowly and reluctantly Ben struggles to rebuild his life and his relationships. It will not be easy for him, but it is time for him to heal.

    Jamie Langston Turner has written a magnificent story. Certain aspects of this book were very personal for me, and brought back some painful memories of things in my past, but the healing that takes place is so inspiring. Sometimes a Light Surprises is one of those books that just grabbed me right from the start and never let me go until the end. Everything about this novel was perfect; the writing, the story, the characters, the realities of life. I will put this book on my short list of favorites and I really hope that someday I will be able to read it again; I don't say that about many books. I can't recommend this book enough, but don't just read it; absorb it, savor it, let its message of hope sink in and inspire you as it did me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2009

    Sometimes a novel surprises with depth and life

    Sometimes a Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner is a poignant and beautifully written novel about how the quiet faith of just one person can make ripples and touch everyone around her. Ben Buckley has removed himself for the most part from the emotion of living after the murder of his wife Chloe twenty-one years ago. He turned over the care of his four children to his mother, allowing her to make excuses for his absence until he's no longer a part of any of their lives. Kelly Kovatch has lived a sheltered life in a Christian home-schooled family of eleven children until her mother's diagnosis of cancer forces her to seek a job at Ben's store as a designer. He initially gives her the job out of a bit of pity, but her unshakable faith and gentle spirit brings change to everyone who works at the store, including Ben's crotchety secretary Caroline, who decides to investigate Chloe's murder for herself. This is not a wildly romantic or action-packed novel. It almost feels like peeking into someone's real life and watching in wonder. Every character is fully realized; no stereotypes or caricatures here! Ben has filled his life with rituals and busyness to escape the gaping hole in his life left by the murder of Chloe and the defection of his children. His quiet awakening corresponds with the emergence of Kelly's confidence. The story builds quietly, one small piece placed upon another until it ends, naturally, wonderfully. It's a terrific book to lose yourself in for an afternoon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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