by Chris Fabry


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Dogwood by Chris Fabry

A Christy Award winner from the best-selling author of War Room!
In the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia, Karin has buried her shattered dreams by settling for a faithful husband whose emotional distance from her deep passions and conflicts leaves her isolated. Loaded with guilt, she tries to raise three small children and “do life” the best she can. Will returns to Dogwood intent on pursuing the only woman he has ever loved—only to find there is far more standing in his way than lost years in prison. The secrets of Will and Karin’s past begin to emerge through Danny Boyd, a young boy who wishes he hadn’t survived the tragedy that knit those two together as well as tore them apart. The trigger that will lay their pain bare and force them to face it rather than flee is the unlikely figure of Ruthie Bowles, a withered, wiry old woman who leads Karin so deep into her anger against God that it forces unexpected consequences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781414319551
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 08/01/2008
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 463,939
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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By Chris Fabry
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008 Chris Fabry
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-1955-1

Chapter One Karin

Ruthie Bowles once said I would wind up hating her. She was right.

I met Ruthie on a Tuesday afternoon after a sleepless Monday night in my closet, a space littered with poetry and my mother's well-worn Bible, dog-eared at the Psalms. The poetry kept me sane, and the Psalms gave me hope. NyQuil stopped working long ago.

"Whoever fights monsters," Nietzsche said, "should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

I ran across that in a quote book. At 3 a.m. it looked interesting. Ruthie doesn't quote Nietzsche, but the truth is the truth. I am a student of the abyss, but I get no credit. It's a night class I audit.

When I met Ruthie, I had an ache in my heart left by the echoes of friends and choices. Mistakes. I knew women in the neighborhood, names and faces from church and the local preschool, but I did not have what Anne Shirley would call a bosom friend, and there were few prospects.

My husband, Richard, pastor of the Little Brown Church-thoughit is not little and more cranberry if you ask me-has been supportive. "Just give it some time," he'll say. "We all go through tough seasons." I've seen him lose a night's sleep about three times in his life, and I fight resentment when I hear his rhythmic breathing. Sleep is a luxury to anxious minds.

Since childhood Ihave sung about the "river glorious" of God's peace. I hadn't planned on the river running dry.

And the church. I longed for a refuge or oasis. Instead, it became Alcatraz. To me, church has always meant relationships, not a building, but my problems sent me away from people rather than toward them.

In my first fledgling nights in the closet, when sleep and every sense of peace crawled away and hid like a wounded animal, I feared I was losing my mind. I pictured white-coated men strapping my arms and pushing me toward an oversize van while my children screamed and the elders shook their heads. I could hear my husband saying, "She just needs a little time. We all go through tough seasons."

Ruthie walked into my loneliness-or should I say hobbled-ata time when God was trimming the nails of my soul to the quick. Angels laughed so hard at my prayers that they held their sides. So many angels.

And God was silent.

One of my mother's favorite songs contains these words: "Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, or we'll walk by His side in the way ..." I've felt constantly in his way. He seemed too ticked off to tell me to get out of it, so he kept quiet. The ESO, Eternal Silent One.

My constant companions were fears, not God. I convinced myself he was simply on vacation, out carrying someone else on that beach with all the footprints. My heart had shriveled, and my soul was as wrinkled as the prunes Ruthie loved.

I kept a journal-don't ask me why-and the ramblings tackledthese fears and questions. Ruthie was the first to tell me that God hadn't abandoned me but was drawing me deeper, calling me out of the shallows, past the abyss, and into the current of his love and mercy.

Yeah, right, I thought. God hadn't asked me if I wanted to go deeper, and thank you very much, I liked the shallows. It's easier to play when there's no current. In the middle you lose your footing; you lose control.

You lose.

However, something drew me to this old woman. Was she an apparition? an angel in disguise? It would be my luck to get an angel with varicose veins. The sliver of hope that she was from God kept me going, but I did not know she had secrets and a closet full of haunted memories. She had seen the abyss long before me and had wrestled monsters of her own.

I suppose we all do.

I grew up in Dogwood. There are memories and stirrings from some other life. My mother and father, Cecilia and Robert Ashworth, still live here. So do his parents. At least, Will's mother does.

Ruthie asked me about him at that first meal, what she dubbed our "First Supper." She asked innocently, or so it seemed at the time. Something about her questions should have tipped me off that she knew more. She did not know how many hims there had been before the pastor. Or that my mind was drawn to someone I could never love. Could never kiss or hold or touch again.

"My husband is a good man," I said. It sounded appropriate, and I hoped she couldn't sense the hurt behind the answer. I knew I had settled for less. Someone safe. Faithful as an old dog but better smelling.

Ruthie let the answer slip away as easily as my children coming down the slide at the park where we watched them play. Tarin is with me during the day. Darin and Kallie are already in school.

I changed the subject. "Do you have children?"

"Grown," she said. "They fl y like birds before you know it. Just when you thought you had the nest figured out. But I guess that's our job."

"Your husband?"

She smiled. "He flew too."

Was he dead? Had he left her? "I'm sorry," I said.

"I remember when mine were your daughter's age. I was different then. Wrapped up in froth."


Ruthie scooted forward on the bench. "Like a beer on tap. You spend your life chasing froth and bubbles. I used to think it satisfied, that it could fill me up and make me happy. But froth is froth. Empty. What I needed was underneath, at the root, the soul. Can't find happiness in froth, at least not for long."

She sounded like a preacher-or one of those homespun storytellers on public television, dispensing wisdom one sound bite at a time. I wanted to switch channels or leave. Make an excuse. Head for a fictional doctor's appointment. I needed to get home to the wash. But it was already evening, and I couldn't fool her. Plus, something drew me. Was it her voice, her eyes, or the way she seemed to wallow in life?

"Come to my house for dinner," Ruthie said. The idea came out of the blue, like a magician pulling fried chicken out of a hat.

"That's very kind of you, but-"

"You look like you could use a friend and I love children."

When I was a child, my brother and I wandered near bushes my mother had ordered us to avoid. We were searching for hidden treasure or a lost baseball-I can't remember which-when we stumbled upon a hornet's nest the size of Detroit. Bobby Ray ran, but I stood, paralyzed by the enormity of the nest and all those stingers writhing inside. For a month I had nightmares about hornets covering my face and arms, stinging every inch of exposed flesh.

As it turned out, one lonely hornet snapped me from my stupor, and I ran to my mother, my arm swollen. She grabbed a fresh onion from the refrigerator, cut it in half, and placed it on the sting. The onion felt wet and slick. "Hold it right there," she said. "It'll draw the poison out."

I have been staring at the hornet's nest called life, afraid to live, too stunned to move. Ruthie was the one who drew the poison from my soul. She became my teacher. Our classroom was her living room or the playground at the Memorial Park. Some of the most intense lessons we tackled while standing in line at Wal-Mart.

"Life isn't pretty, so you've got to hug the ugly out of it," she said one day.

She had no idea how much ugly there was.


Excerpted from Dogwood by Chris Fabry Copyright © 2008by Chris Fabry.Excerpted by permission.
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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Dogwood 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
knittingforalyssa More than 1 year ago
This was a good book. Each chapter is from a different character's point of view. I really didn't see the ending coming so it was a surprise. Could have done without the whole crime story about Elvis, not sure how that tied into the story. Maybe I was missing something.
FallowfieldReviews More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Chris Fabry. His writing style is easy and puts you immediately into the setting as if you actually live there, too. The structure of his novel is similar to others books that have proven affective, such as "The Help" ( by Kathryn Stockard), where the story is told in the first person by the key characters. Each chapter is one of these characters speaking and is an enjoyable way to read as opposed to a third person's narrative. That being said, I stuggle with the play of emotions the author puts on the reader. I understand this book has received great reviews- the story line is weaved with various threads and it all comes together nicely in the end, but it is all emotional. The story is basically one man's utter devotion and protection of the woman he loves but the end does not justify the means. Pealing away the noble, sacrifical, and love-driven act of this man we have that he needed to lie in order to demonstrate his love. Good literature should elevate and edify me, especially Christian literature. This book doesn't do that for me. It makes me wonder how far we have come from the simple, fundamental truth that God cannot bless a lie. I wish Fabry would have written a story where the truth was revealed at the onset and yet still had his main character take the girl's just punishment as an act of love.
carrut More than 1 year ago
Wow! Now that I know the ending, I want to read it again. This story and the characters won't leave you when you read the last page....they will stay with you.
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EleymBeigh More than 1 year ago
Dogwood, West Virginia hates their prodigal son, Will Hatfield. Returning to his hometown after being locked up in prison for causing a tragic accident, none of the town's residents want him there, and no one is shy about exposing their feelings. But Will has only come back to Dogwood for one thing: Karin Ashworth. He's promised himself that when he gets out of Clarkston Penitentiary he will make a life with her. He daydreams constantly of their home, their children, making love, and growing old with her. When Will is released from prison many discourage him from this dream, but he is never swayed, truly and heart-wrenchingly loyal to Karin. But Karin is married, she has three kids, and a stable life. However, she can't explain why she's always locking herself up in her closet with her Bible flipped to the Psalms. Her husband, a pastor at the local church, is distant, and after a trip to visit Will in prison with Ruthie Bowles, a feisty, elderly woman with grit and a swell of love, Karin worries about her mind straying down other avenues than just her love for her husband. Her feeling's for Will teeter, she becomes emotionally fidgety, and begins to question her loyalty to her marriage. Things aren't always what they seem, and what you think you know, you really don't. Not in this book. Fabry makes you think you're reading a soft story of unrequited love, life hardships, and unreached potential. You are. But what you don't know is that you're really reading something that is so much more than what is revealed on the surface. Think of this book as a lake or pond or ocean; with each flip of the page, you're swimming deeper into the waters of Fabry's inventive world, stroking through secrets, pushing through muck, until you finally reach the depth of the story, the book's flooring and foundation. You know nothing until you're walking the grounds of this body of water. The deeper you get, the more you discover. When told from Will's perspective, this story is passionate, intense, heart-pounding, breathtaking, yearning, gratifying. All of these emotions well up when he dreams of Karin. His narrative made me long for a man to think, dream, and speak of me in the ways Will spoke of his love. I even made a note in the book that he seemed to narrate the most heartbreaking scenes; even more heartbreaking once you get to the end of this book and think back on his narratives from the beginning. I was incredibly taken aback by the end of this novel. It's like finding out your best friend is a completely different person than what they've made themselves out to be. Fabry definitely keeps you guessing until the very last word. But don't worry - all of this heartache and deception turns out for good. You will be rewarded, and find yourself truly grateful to have read this story.
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The mystery throughout keeps you turning the pages, while you fall in love with the characters. The story has a beautiful and unexpected ending which is incredibly powerful, and is also an amazing analogy of the Love Christ has for us.
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MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
What an amazing story! While there were several different characters and viewpoints, for the most part they were distinct enough where I could keep track of them. At any rate, this story was a page turner. I loved how the author dropped little clues on a trail which led to the culmination of the story. While not perfect or super-spiritual, the ending was still gratifying despite the tragic undertones. For the majority of the story, you aren't quite sure what the whole issue is with Karin, but begin to suspect a little bit more as the story moves along. It's so bittersweet, yet surprising. And beautiful. This story left me wanting to mull over the the details even after I finished it. Kind of like I did with the movie 'Summersby' starring Jodi Foster and Richard Gear. Yet Dogwood didn't leave me with a 'bummer' feeling like some novels have. In fact, I grew more fond of Will as the story progressed, despite what had allegedly occurred before he went to prison. And kind of like in the movie 'Dead Man Walking,' I wanted to obsess over what could have happened differently to prevent the incident in the first place. My heart ached for him. Then as the truth slowly came out, a tragic sense of loss hit meet deep inside, but it mingled with rejoicing as things were revealed. There were some intense moments in the story when I thought for sure it was over for Will. The suspense was killing me as was his unrequited love and longing for Karin. The scenes that went back to that tragic year were particularly powerful. The emotion was totally gripping, and it was so precious to get to know Will's heart so much that he felt like a real person to me. I can see this movie becoming a Hollywood feature film. In fact, it was so well done I felt like I was living in Dogwood as I read the story. Rarely does a novel strike such a deep chord in me like this one had. This story is not only well worth reading, but sharing with friends, too. It would make a fabulous book club selection because it was so thought-provoking and edgy. And I SO love edgy because I love anything that makes me think and feel things on a deeper level.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't finish the book. Boring and slow. Very dissapointing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to be careful in my review not to give too much away... this is a good book with lots of twists and turns that are best enjoyed curled up in bed frantically turning pages toward the end as everything starts to come out and be explained in a frenzy... Dogwood has 3 parts to it. The first part was a little confusing for me - each chapter throughout the book is written from the viewpoint of one of four people. It took me awhile to grasp that and get them all straightened out in my mind. The other confusing thing was that the tragedy that is the center of everything is kept secret for pretty much the whole first part and I couldn't figure out why it was such a secret. Also the town of Dogwood shows itself to have no forgiveness for an accident and I wasn't sure out where the maliciousness came from, I mean being upset is one thing but sheer hatred is another. Those minor things aside - this was a great book! I figured a few of the twists and turns out before the end, but Chris managed to blow my mind with the last chapter. Overall I was very impressed with this book - I loved the mentorship between Ruthie and Karin - we all need someone in our lives like Ruthie but so few of us have that. And all I can say about one of my other favorite parts is that Chris does a great job of showing the love of the Saviour in this book - you'll have to read it to fully understand what I mean.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It has been twelve years since Will Hatfield was sentenced to Clarkeston Federal prison, but he is about to be released in two months. He has a great desire to see the family farm in Dogwood, West Virginia and Karin the only woman h ever loved. When he went to prison, she never answered his letters as she made a new life for herself in a passionless marriage with three children she adores.---------------- When Will comes home, he is not greeted like the prodigal son as most locals believe he should have spent his life in prison for his crimes even his brother would be happier if he left. The family has been dragged through the sewage due to Will¿s DUI vehicular homicide of two innocent girls. He is attacked at the place he used to work and the town tries to take the farm away from him due to eminent domain. Karin is coming to learn the truth ABOUT THE SACRIFICE Will made for her.---------------- On the surface DOGWOOD seems like a straight line story with Danny the brother of the dead sisters receiving counseling because he blames himself for their deaths. Karin tries to be happy in her situation while Will shows patience as he waits for Karin to realize the truth. None of the peoples¿ stories are quite what they appear as the revelations are quite shocking. Chris Fabry has written a heart wrenching character driven tale as each of the key players feels guilt while praying for redemption and a fresh start.-------------- Harriet Klausner