Love Comes Softly introduced the characters of Marty and Clark Davis, whose tragic circumstances brought them to a "marriage of convenience" on the frontier prairies during the mid 1800s. The story of how Clark's patient, caring love mirrored that of the heavenly Father, drawing Marty to faith and to love, has captured the hearts and imaginations of over one million readers on Book One alone!
About the Author
Janette Oke (pronounced "oak") pioneered inspirational fiction and is the leading author in the category today. Love Comes Softly, her first novel, has sold over one million copies. Janette is now the bestselling author of over 70 books, 32 of which have been translated into fourteen languages. Her books have sold over 22 million copies.
Janette receives fan mail from all over the world and answers each letter personally. She received the 1992 President's Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for her significant contribution to Christian fiction, the 1999 CBA Life Impact Award and has been awarded the Gold Medallion Award for fiction.
Janette and her husband, Edward, have four grown children and enjoy their many grandchildren. They make their home in Canada.
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Love Comes Softly
By Janette Oke
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2003 Janette Oke
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Grim Reaper
The morning sun shone brightly on the canvas of the covered wagon, promising an unseasonably warm day for mid-October. Marty fought for wakefulness, coming slowly out of a troubled and fitful sleep. Why did she feel so heavy and ill at ease-she who usually woke with enthusiasm and readiness for each new day's adventure? Then it all came flooding back, and she fell in a heap on the quilt from which she had just emerged. Sobs shook her body, and she pressed the covering to her face to muffle the sound.
Clem is gone. The truth of it was nearly unthinkable. Less than two short years ago, strong, adventurous, boyish Clem had quickly and easily made her love him. Self-assured and confident, he had captured her heart and her hand. Fourteen months later, she was a married woman out west, beginning a new and challenging adventure with the man she loved-until yesterday.
Oh, Clem, she wept. Her whole world had fallen around her when the men came to tell her that Clem was dead. Killed outright. His horse had fallen. They'd had to destroy the horse. Did she want to come with them?
No, she'd stay.
Would she like the missus to come over?
No, she'd manage.
She wondered how she had even gotten the words past her lips.
They'd care for the body, one of them had told her. His missus was right good at that. The neighbors would arrange for the burying. Lucky the parson was paying his visit through the area. Was to have moved on today, but they were certain that he'd stay over. Sure she didn't want to come with them?
No, she'd be all right. Hated to leave her alone.
She needed to be alone.
They'd see her on the morrow. Not to worry. They'd care for everything.
And they had gone, taking her Clem with them, wrapped in one of her few blankets and fastened on the back of a horse. The kindly neighbor should have been riding it, but he was now leading the animal slowly, careful of its burden.
And now it was the morrow and the sun was shining. Why was the sun shining? Didn't nature know that today should be as lifeless as she felt, with a cold wind blowing like the chill that gripped her heart?
The fact that she was way out west in the fall of the year with no way back home, no one around that she knew-and she was expecting Clem's baby besides-should have filled her with panic. But for the moment the only thing her mind could settle on and her heart grasp was the overwhelming pain of her great loss.
"Oh, Clem! Clem!" she cried aloud. "What am I gonna do without you?" She buried her face again in the quilt.
Clem had come out west with such wild excitement.
"We'll find everything we want there in thet new country. The land's there fer the takin'," he had exulted.
"What 'bout the wild animals-an' the Injuns?" she had stammered.
He had laughed at her silliness, picked her up in his strong arms, and whirled her around in the air.
"What 'bout a house? It'll be 'most winter when we git there," she worried.
"The neighbors will help us build one. I've heered all 'bout it. They'll help one another do whatever needs to be done out there."
And it was true. Those hardy frontiersmen scattered across the wilderness would leave their highly valued crops standing in the fields, if need be, while they gave of their time to put a roof over a needy if somewhat cocky and reckless newcomer, because they would know far better than he the fierceness of the winter winds.
"We'll make out jest fine. Don't ya worry yourself none, Marty," Clem had assured her. With some reluctance, Marty had begun preparations for the long trek by wagon train to follow her beloved husband's dream.
After many weeks of travel, they had come upon a farmhouse in an area of rolling hills and pastureland, and Clem had made inquiries. Over a friendly cup of coffee, the farmer had informed them that he owned the land down to the creek, but the land beyond that, reaching up into the hills, had not yet been claimed. With an effort, Clem had restrained himself from whooping on the spot. Marty could tell that the very thought of being so near his dream filled Clem with wild anticipation. Thanking their soon-to-be neighbor, they hurried on, traveling a bit too fast for the much-mended wagon. They were within sight of their destination when another wheel gave way, and this time it was beyond repair.
They had camped for the night, still on the neighbor's land, and Clem had piled rocks and timbers under the broken wagon in an effort to make it somewhat level. In the morning they had discovered more bad luck. One of the horses had deserted them during the night, and his broken rope still dangled from the tree. Clem had ridden out on the remaining horse to look for it. And then the accident, and now he wouldn't be coming back. There would be no land claimed in his name, nor a house built that would stand proud and strong to shelter his wife and baby.
Marty sobbed again, but then she heard a noise outside the wagon and peeped timidly through the canvas. Neighbors were there-four men with grim faces, silently and soberly digging beneath the largest spruce tree. As she realized what their digging meant, a fresh torment tore at her soul. Clem's grave. It was really true. This horrible nightmare was actually happening. Clem was gone. She was without him. He would be buried on borrowed land.
"Oh, Clem. What'll I do?"
She wept until she had no more tears. The digging continued. She could hear the scraping of the shovels, and each thrust seemed to stab deeper into her heart.
More sounds reached her, and she realized that other neighbors were arriving. She must take herself in hand. Clem would not want her hiding away inside the wagon.
She climbed from the quilt and tried to tidy her unruly hair. Quickly dressing in her dark blue cotton frock, which seemed to be the most suitable for the occasion, she snatched a towel and her comb and slipped out of the wagon and down to the spring to wash away her tears and straighten her tangled hair. This done, she squared her shoulders, lifted her chin, and went back to meet the somber little group gathered under the spruce.
* * *
There was a kindness, a caring, in all of them. She could feel it. It was not pity, but an understanding. This was the West. Things were hard out here. Most likely every person there had faced a similar time, but one didn't go under. There was no time or energy for pity here-not for self, not for one another. It took your whole being to accept the reality that death was part of life, that the sorrow was inevitable, but that you picked up and carried on.
The visiting pastor spoke the words of interment, committing Clem's body to the dust of the earth, his soul into the hands of God. He also spoke to the sorrowing, who in this case was one lone, small person, the widow of the deceased; for one could hardly count the baby that she was carrying as one of the mourners, even if it was Clem's.
Pastor Magnuson spoke words that were fitting for the occasion-words of comfort and words of encouragement. The neighbors listened in silent sympathy to the familiar Scriptures they had heard on similar occasions. When the brief ceremony was over, Marty, her head bowed, turned from the grave toward the wagon, and the four men with the shovels went back to the task of covering the stout wooden box they had brought with them. As Marty walked away, a woman stepped forward and placed her hand on the slim shoulder.
"I'm Wanda Marshall," she said, her voice low. "I'm sorry we don't have any more than the one room, but you'd be welcome to share it for a few days until you sort things out."
"Much obliged." Marty spoke in almost a whisper. "But I wouldn't wanta impose upon ya. 'Sides, I think I'll jest stay on here fer a while. I need me time to think."
"I understand," the woman answered with a small pat, and she moved away.
Marty continued toward the wagon and was stopped again, this time by an older woman's gentle hand.
"This ain't an easy time fer ya, I know. I buried my first husband many years ago, and I know how you're feelin'." She paused a minute and then went on. "I don't s'pose you've had ya time to plan." At the slight shake of Marty's head, she continued, "I can't offer ya a place to stay; we're full up at our place. But I can offer ya somethin' to eat, and iffen you'd like to move yer wagon to our yard, we'd be happy to help ya pack yer things, and my Ben, Ben Graham, will be more'n glad to help ya git to town whenever yer ready to go."
"Thank ya," Marty murmured, "but I think I'll stay on here fer a while."
How could she explain that she had no money to stay, not even for one night, and no hope of getting any? What kind of work could a young, untrained woman in her condition hope to get? What kind of a future was there for her, anyway?
Her feet somehow moved her on to the wagon and she lifted a heavy hand to the canvas flap. She just wanted to crawl away, out of sight, and let the world cave in upon her.
It was hot in there at midday, and the rush of torrid air sent her already dizzy head to spinning. She crawled back out and down on the grass on the shady side of the wagon, propping herself up against the broken wheel. Her senses seemed to be playing tricks on her. Round and round in her head swept the whirlwind of grief, making her wonder what truly was real and what imagined. She was mentally groping to make some sense of it all when a male voice suddenly made her jump with its closeness.
She lifted her head and looked up. A man stood before her, cap in hand, fingering it determinedly as he cleared his throat. She vaguely recognized him as one of the shovel bearers. His height and build evidenced strength, and there was an oldness about his eyes that belied his youthful features. Her eyes looked into his face, but her lips refused to respond.
He seemed to draw courage from somewhere deep inside himself and spoke again.
"Ma'am, I know thet this be untimely-ya jest havin' buried yer husband an' all. But I'm afraid the matter can't wait none fer a proper-like time an' place."
He cleared his throat again and glanced up from the hat in his hands.
"My name be Clark Davis," he hurried on, "an' it 'pears to me thet you an' me be in need of one another."
A sharp intake of breath from Marty made him pause, then raise a hand.
"Now, hold a minute," he told her, almost a command. "It jest be a matter of common sense. Ya lost yer man an' are here alone." He cast a glance at the broken wagon wheel, then crouched down to speak directly to her.
"I reckon ya got no money to go to yer folks, iffen ya have folks to go back to. An' even if thet could be, ain't no wagon train fer the East will go through here 'til next spring. Me, now, I got me a need, too."
He stopped there and his eyes dropped. It was a minute before he raised them and looked into her face. "I have a little 'un, not much more'n a mite-an' she be needin' a mama. Now, as I see it, if we marries, you an' me"-he looked away a moment, then faced her again-"we could solve both of those problems. I would've waited, but the preacher is only here fer today an' won't be back through agin 'til next April or May, so's it has to be today."
He must have recognized in her face the sheer horror Marty was feeling.
"I know. I know," he stammered. "It don't seem likely, but what else be there?"
What else indeed? raged through Marty's brain. I'd die first, that's all. I'd rather die than marry you-or any man. Get out. Go away.
But he didn't read any more of her rampaging thoughts and went on. "I've been strugglin' along, tryin' to be pa an' ma both fer Missie, an' not doin' much of a job of it, either, with tryin' to work the land an' all. I've got me a good piece of land an' a cabin thet's right comfortable like, even if it be small, an' I could offer ya all the things thet a woman be a needin' in exchange fer ya takin' on my Missie. I be sure thet ya could learn to love her. She be a right pert little thing." He paused. "But she do be needin' a woman's hand, my Missie. That's all I be askin' ya, ma'am. Jest to be Missie's mama. Nothin' more. You an' Missie can share the bedroom. I'll take me the lean-to. An' ..." He hesitated a bit. "I'll promise ya this, too. When the next wagon train goes through headin' east to where ya can catch yerself a stagecoach, iffen ya ain't happy here, I'll see to yer fare back home-on one condition-thet ya take my Missie along with ya." He paused to swallow, then said, "It jest don't be fair to the little mite not to have a mama."
He rose suddenly. "I'll leave ya to be a thinkin' on it, ma'am. We don't have much time."
He turned and strode away. The sag of his shoulders told her how much the words had cost him. Still, she thought angrily, what kind of a man could propose marriage-even this kind of a marriage-to a woman who had just turned from her husband's grave? She felt despair well up within her. I'd rather die, she told herself. I'd rather die. But what of Clem's baby? She didn't want death for their little one, neither for her sake nor for Clem's. Frustration and anger and grief whirled through her. What a situation to be in. No one, nothing, out in this Godforsaken country. Family and friends were out of reach, and she was completely alone. She knew he was right. She needed him, and she hated him for it.
"I hate this country! I hate it! I hate him, the cold, miserable man! I hate him! I hate him!" But even as she stormed against him, she knew she had no way around it.
She wiped her tears and got up from the shady grass. She wouldn't wait for him to come back in his lordly fashion for her decision, she thought stubbornly, and she went into the wagon and began to pack the few things she called hers.
Excerpted from Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke Copyright © 2003 by Janette Oke. 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.
Table of Contents
I feel that you, my readers, have indeed become friends over the years since 1979, when Clark and Marty first came to life on the pages of Love Comes Softly. Actually, these two characters had lived in my heart and imagination some time before that and had already become dear to me.
The journey for me since then, with both my readers and characters, has been long and exciting—a journey in which I have felt God’s leading, for it certainly has been beyond my planning or even dreams.
When Love Comes Softly was published, I had no intention of writing a sequel. As far as I knew, the story was complete with Clark and Marty allowing the Lord to kindle a genuine care and love for each other in their hearts. But readers had other ideas, and many letters asked, “What happens next?” With the encouragement of Carol Johnson, editor at Bethany House, I laid aside plans for my next novel and wrote instead the continuation of the Davis family saga. I was apprehensive, I must confess, as I sat down to write, not at all sure it would work. But readers must have felt satisfied, and they asked for more. Eventually there were eight novels in the Love Comes Softly series, and Clark and Marty have become old friends to many readers over the years.
I went on to other characters and stories, but requests kept coming. One reader even acknowledged praying for the Davis family! Others had suggestions for how I should continue the saga, and a few implored me to at least tell them what else happened if I wasn’t going to actually write more books in the series! At last I acquiesced, and four more novels were added in A Prairie Legacy series. But we had to stop there. Enough years were covered over the twelve novels to bring Clark and Marty to the final years of their life together. Like many of you, neither did I wish to mourn their deaths.
These two characters, though fictional, represent many in my own life—and no doubt in yours, also—who have taught lessons, both practical and spiritual. Each struggle Clark and Marty worked through, I struggled through with them. Each triumph they experienced was my own. Each truth about the faithfulness of the God they served was a wonderful reminder to me. I have shared their days of sunshine and their times of dark shadow. I have felt myself grow—quietly but continuously—in my inner self. God has used the development of these characters to help me stretch beyond where I have been.
So even though we have said good-bye to the Davis family, it is with deep tenderness and a personal thankfulness for what these fictional people have added to my life. My prayer is that their lives and impact might travel on beyond my own—for my days, like all, will be numbered. Through the printed pages of this book and others, God willing, their lives will continue in the hearts and minds of readers like you.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Here are a list of the books in order: 1 Love Comes Softly 2 Love's Enduring Promise 3 Love's Long Journey 4 Love's Abiding Joy 5 Love's Unending Legacy 6 Love's Unfolding Dream 7 Love Takes Wing 8 Love Finds A Home This is the Prarie Legacy series a continuation of the Love Comes Softly series. 1 The Tender Years 2 A Searching Heart 3 A Quiet Strength 4 Like Gold Refined I LOVE JANETTE OKE!!!!!!!!!
This is a great read. Not exactly like the movie, yet very enjoyable to read. Can anyone please tell me the name of the second book in the Love comes Softly series. thanks
I thoroughly enjoyed the book Love Comes Softly, and look forward to reading the rest of the series. Janette Oke makes you feel like you are going through all the trials that they are going through each day. I highly recommend it to every age to read this exciting book. I think this book would be good for book club readers.
One of the best series I have read. One thing for sure you realize the difficulties that this generation went through just to survive. You learn how each individual learned to share, help, and willing to trust God to get not only themselves through each day, but also those of the family, neighbors or anyone in need. So much can be learned about their honesty and respect for the earth and animals. It is sad that their experience has not filtered down to today's generation.
Not as good as little house on the praire but still 5 stars
One of the most beautiful love stories i have ever read. I have read this series so many times and it touches me every time.
I remember watching the movie every time i went to my grandmas house when i was little. When a lady i go to church with lended me the books i couldnt put it down. Even after i already new what was going to happen. From the movie to the books it really helps you feels for the charaters and opens your heart of what God can do in your life. This is a must read for everyone ;)
This was the first christian book I ever read over 25 years ago....and I'm embarrassed to say now that I loved it so much, I went to the church were I found it and I actually stole the whole set from the church.....obviously I was a baby baby christian. But Janette Oke's books opened my world up to christian fiction...and closed the doors on all the junk I used to read. I know God forgives me for stealing these books.... Thank you Janette for inspiring me..... the movies will never do the books justice.......
Best series ever! You'll love it!! 8D
Great story. The writing is a bit simple...but I great story nonetheless.
I am not a serious reader, but after reading this one I had to complete the set. And the next and the next after that.This story touches your emotions every time you read it.
Great book with engaging characters that leave you wanting more.
I would definitly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read. I saw the movie and loved it, so decided to read the book. I LOVE THIS SERIES! Favorites are Love Comes Softly and Love's Long Journey. Each Book gets better and better each time. It's so cool to see how the family's faith in god helps them keep moving forward. An awesome feel-good book.
Love Comes Softly (book 1 only) was an awesome book. Janette Oke portrayed the characters and setting perfectly. She gave Marty the correct emotions of a widow such as sorrow as well as young Missie the correct actions and dilect of a young toddler. Janette was so descriptive that I enjoyed and was interested in the simplest things such as Marty preparing for the day. I felt as if I was a part of the Davis family. This book had some slow spots but what book doesn't. This book also contains religious elements (Christianity). Janette gave Marty and Clark a western dialect which, at the beginning, was difficult to read but as you go, you get use to it. I really enjoyed this book and will recommend it to everyone one I know!
I first read Love Comes Softly when I was only about 15 or 16 years old, and if memory serves, it was my very first romance novel. It seems I must have picked well, because not only is it an appropriate story for younger readers content-wise, but it has stood up to the test of time. I still enjoyed it every bit as much today as I did 25 years ago, perhaps even more because I'm seeing it through more mature eyes. Love Comes Softly is something of a Little House on the Prairie story aimed at a slightly older audience. Janette Oke captures that same spirit of the pioneers, depicting their day-to-day lives in a way that made me feel like I was there with them. It amazes me how hard-working and courageous these people were. Ms. Oke paints a picture of joys and sorrow, hardships and laughter against the backdrop of the frontier where close-knit communities of people existed who were willing to help each other in any way they could. She also really brings home the harsh reality for people in that time period, especially women, and how few choices they had. Marty would have been in unbelievably dire straits, and could possibly have even died, if Clark, a stranger to her, hadn't proposed a marriage of convenience. Under the circumstances, it couldn't have been an easy thing for him to do either, but he needed her almost as much as she needed him, even though she didn't want to admit it.The vast majority (probably more than 95%) of the story is told from Marty's third-person point of view. Marty was a great female lead, but she was also a character who had to slowly grow on me. The author did a wonderful job of palpably expressing Marty's grief over the loss of her first husband. Then Clark came along immediately after her husband's funeral with his proposal. After some thought, Marty, being a practical woman, realized that she really had no other choice, but it didn't stop her from stubbornly resenting Clark for it. Although Marty never gave voice to her angry thoughts in Clark's presence, the reader is certainly privy to them. There were times when I felt like she was being ungrateful for this man taking her in and treating her with kindness and respect, and that she was rather selfish in not even considering the fact that he too might still be grieving the loss of his wife. In her defense though, I carefully considered what it would be like to be in her shoes, and decided that she was for the most part simply having a fairly normal human reaction to being placed in such an untenable position. During these times, I wish that a little more background information had been given about Marty so that I could better understand her reluctance to be beholden to a man, her being suspicious about Clark's kindness, and her inability to perform some of the simplest household tasks. I did admire her determination to uphold her end of the bargain (one way in which her stubbornness served her well), her willingness to learn, and that she always tried her best even when it didn't turn out right. Marty's initial ineptness at cooking and doing household chores could be pretty funny at times. As I continued to read, I realized that the story was really all about Marty's journey back to wholeness and being able to open her heart to love again, and I really enjoyed watching her learn, and change, and most of all grow as a person.There is a part of me that wishes we could have had a little more insight from Clark's point of view. There were only a handful of times in the entire book where we get to see things from his perspective, and they only last for a couple of paragraphs. However, I think that the author meant for the reader to experience Clark through his actions, and the message that actions speak louder than words came across very clearly through his character. Clark was an incredibly kind and gentle man. He only asked for a mutually beneficial marriage in name only, and even offered Marty an out if she chose to take it. He gav
I just re-read this book, and enjoyed it just as much this time as I did the first time!!
It took me a little time to get used to the authors style of writing. The story is awesome I loved the movie and I knew the book would be amazing. I didn't realize how different they were until I started this book.
Love these books and movies! Does amyone know where they cam be found as a set?
The story was great but the end came to quick. I'm glad there are more books available.
Love the movies love the books
Got it all...story, characters, and just the right amount of truth
I loved this book. I had seen the movie on Hallmark channel years ago and enjoyed it. Such a wonderful story!