The Chapel Car Bride

The Chapel Car Bride

by Judith Miller

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Intriguing Glimpse into the Past by Bestselling Historical Author Judith Miller

With her penchant for seeing the best in everyone, Hope Irvine sees a world full of good people in hard places. When her father accepts a position traveling in a chapel car as an on-the-rail missionary, she is determined to join him in his efforts and put her musical skills to good use by serving the mining families of West Virginia, saving their souls, and bettering their lives.

Luke Hughes shares Hope's love of music and her love of God, but as a poor miner he knows he can offer her no future. Still, the notes she sings resonate in his heart. When she begins to travel with a young mine manager to neighboring counties, Luke can hardly suppress his jealousy. It isn't until he begins to suspect these missions of mercy might be the mine manager's cover for illegal purposes, though, that Luke feels justified in speaking up. But how can he discover the truth without hurting Hope or, worse, putting her in danger?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781441231055
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 246,525
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy makes her home in Topeka, Kansas. Learn more at
Judith Miller is an award-winning writer whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her family make their home in Kansas. Learn more at

Read an Excerpt

The Chapel Car Bride

By Judith Miller

Baker Publishing Group

Copyright © 2017 Judith Miller
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1905-4


Early Spring, 1913

Hope Irvine clutched a handful of leaflets and picked her way toward the rear of the swaying train. Pushing open the heavy door, she grasped the waist-high railing of the train's rear platform with her free hand. Her lips curved in a bright smile as she leaned forward to toss flyers from the Herald of Hope, the chapel car entrusted to her father's ministry.

But where were the children who usually ran after the chapel car when they pulled into a town? Had she miscalculated the time of their arrival? Were the children still in school? Rather than little girls with pigtails flying in the breeze and young boys waving their caps, the only folks watching the train were a few surly-looking men lolling about outside a tavern near the railroad tracks.

When several of the men hooted and shouted catcalls in her direction, Hope startled, loosened her grip, and toppled backward, landing on her backside with skirts splayed out. Too late, she clapped her right hand to her head. Her ribbon-bedecked hat that was a perfect match for her red claret suit sailed from the back of the train like a kite on a windy day. Quickly swiping her skirt back in place, she clung to the rear railing and pulled to a sitting position. A rush of anger assailed her as she watched one of the scalawags crush the fashionable hat onto his head, then jump in the air and click his booted heels together. She narrowed her eyes and scowled.

Before she'd regained her footing, her father stooped down beside her, his eyes filled with concern. "You're hurt! I'm so sorry, Hope. From now on I'll toss the flyers."

The train lurched as he helped her to her feet, and both of them grabbed for the railing before they toppled to the platform. He pulled her close to his side.

"I'm fine, Papa. The only thing damaged is my new hat and my dignity."

He tightened his hold around her shoulder. "I've made a mistake bringing you with me. This train isn't a proper home for a young woman. I shouldn't have been so easily convinced."

Her father wasn't stretching the truth when he said he'd been easily convinced. Hope had been caught by surprise when he agreed after only a few hours of arguing her case. No doubt, the loneliness he'd written of in his letters over the past years had influenced his decision, as well. If she didn't allay his concerns, this silly incident might cause him to seek another solution to her living situation before they'd even arrived at their final destination.

"Pshaw." Hope smiled at her father. "What about the wives who have been accompanying their husbands on other chapel cars for many years now? I'm not going to endure any hardships that haven't already been overcome by those fine ladies."

Her father sighed. "Whether you care to admit it or not, there is a vast difference between a married woman accompanying her husband and a minister's daughter of nineteen years who has never experienced the hardships of life. Besides, you're no more than a wisp of a girl. A strong wind could topple you."

A hairpin fell from her riotous reddish-brown curls and nested in the navy trim that accented her full skirt. She yanked the pin from the decorative cording and thrust it into her curls before flashing a smile at her father. "Nothing you say about those unruly men or the hardships of living in a chapel car will change my mind. I believe the Lord wants me at your side. Those men and their rude comments haven't discouraged me in the least." With a quick swipe, she brushed the soot from her skirt before stepping back inside the chapel car. Though her father wasn't one to end a conversation until he was ready, she hoped her final remark would put an end to this discussion.

Her father followed on her heels as she navigated the narrow aisle that centered the rows of wooden pews in the chapel portion of the railcar. "You can walk away, but we aren't through talking, Hope." He pointed his thumb toward the window. "I shouldn't have given in and let you come with me. If I'd had time to consider the idea thoroughly, I would have insisted you remain in Pittsburgh."

She continued onward until she entered the cramped living quarters at the rear of the car. She squeezed through the slight space between the berths and dining table, sat down, and gestured for her father to take the seat opposite her. "I believe that if you weigh the good against the bad, you'll soon agree that this is where I should be, Papa. Besides, you agreed that you needed someone to help with the children, and while you're a gifted preacher, we both know that the Lord didn't grace you with an abundance of musical talent."

Her father grunted and lowered his lanky body into a chair and met her eyes. "That much is true. And having you along to play the organ and lead the singing will be a great help. But I've managed without you, thanks to the gramophone and an occasional volunteer in some of the towns. You've already proven your talents are useful to me and the church's ministry, but at what cost?" He shook his head. "I think you should return home. We're going to be in a mining town, where life will be quite different from anything you've ever experienced."

His words had been spoken with such conviction that Hope was left momentarily speechless. Eyes wide, she stared at him and waited to hear him recant the statement. But the only sound in the swaying car was the clacking of the wheels as the train labored up the forested hillside toward the next small town. When she could bear the silence no longer, she reached across the narrow table and clasped her father's rough hand. Not the hand one would expect of a preacher, but Layton Irvine had been a carpenter and builder before he'd accepted his first preaching position many years ago. Since then, his life had been as much about building churches as preaching in them. Each time he'd returned to visit Hope at Aunt Mattie's clapboard cottage in Pittsburgh, he'd repeated the same tale. The life of a traveling missionary wasn't acceptable for a growing young girl. And she'd accepted his explanation — until now. She was no longer a growing young girl, but a full-grown woman.

"What home would you have me go to, Papa? Aunt Mattie is dead, and we've disposed of her belongings. She didn't even own the house where we lived."

She was surprised to see a multitude of gray hairs appear when her father raked his fingers through his mass of wavy dark brown hair. "I know. I know." He waved toward the passing scenery. "But traveling on this chapel car with me isn't the answer. If you would return to Pittsburgh, I'm sure they'd rehire you at the department store. I'll stay long enough to help you get situated in an affordable boardinghouse. I imagine there are several located within walking distance of the store. If you don't have to ride the trolley to and from work, it will reduce your expenses so you can purchase some new bauble from time to time." He blew out a short breath. "And with your sweet disposition, you'll have no problem making friends with the other boarders."

Hope's stomach churned. Her father was talking as though she'd already agreed to his idea. No doubt his mention of her sweet disposition was an attempt to discourage any argument from her. While she understood his desire to protect her, she was far more likely to encounter difficulties living on her own in Pittsburgh than she would under his watchful eye. Instead of speaking of her desire to help him with his ministry, she decided to recount the perilous situations that sometimes confronted single young women working in the city.

"Papa, Pittsburgh is the last place I want to live. Even though I walked to the trolley stop in full daylight during the summer months, the sun was blocked by the haze caused by the surrounding steel mills. The city is blanketed in darkness both day and night. I'm sure you haven't forgotten the inescapable murky shadows that stretch over the streets in every direction." She'd spoken the truth, but hoped the word picture would convince her father. She didn't want him to feel guilty for leaving her with Aunt Mattie after her mother died eleven years ago. Hope had been only nine years old and he'd wanted her to have a stable life while she finished her schooling. But her education was complete, and Aunt Mattie was dead. Now, more than ever, she wanted to be with family. And he was her only family. Couldn't he see that she needed him?

When he didn't respond, she continued her graphic tale. "In the winter, it was even more frightening. The ice and snow made for treacherous walking, and more than once I was hounded by beggars. When I didn't toss them a coin, they shouted threats at me." In spite of the warmth inside the car, Hope shivered. It hadn't been necessary to embellish those encounters. Truth be told, fear had caused her to change her route to the trolley stop on several occasions.

"I didn't know. I'm so sorry." He bowed his head and stared at his weathered hands. "I'm still not convinced this is the best life for you, but I suppose I shouldn't let one incident sway me." He leaned back in his chair. "I want your assurance that you'll come and tell me if you encounter any sort of problems with men in the towns where we stop. And remember, even some of the men who work for the railroad can be a rough lot." He hesitated a moment. "I want you to tell me if any of them bother you in any way."

She nodded and smiled. "Thank you, Papa." She glanced through the door toward the rear of the train. "And I do hope you'll allow me to continue tossing tracts from the train until we arrive in Finch."

"We'll see." He turned his attention to the window. "This is Brookfield. We'll be stopping soon. The brakeman told me he was sure some of the railroad workers will want to attend a ten o'clock meeting after they finish their stint tonight. We'll need to be ready for an early meeting with the townsfolk tomorrow morning, as well. Our car will be pushed onto a spur once we arrive in Brookfield."

The distance from Pittsburgh to their final destination in Finch, West Virginia, was less than three hundred miles, but they'd already been traveling for more than a week. And from her father's account, they'd be traveling for at least two more weeks before they reached journey's end. She'd quickly learned their progress was determined by the railroad companies and their willingness to attach the chapel car to the rear of their trains. Most of the companies along the route from Pittsburgh to their final destination were more than willing — but at their convenience.

Hope sighed. "I didn't realize it was going to take us so long to get there. I'll need to do laundry while we're here."

Her father's eyebrows dipped low above his dark eyes. "Remember, we must be thankful for the cooperation of the railroad and make no complaints."

There was no choice but to accept these stopovers, yet it was difficult to remain thankful when they were pushed onto a spur for days at a time. Granted, such stops gave her father an opportunity to preach and minister to folks in the small towns along the way, but Hope was eager to reach Finch. Besides, being pushed onto the spurs could be painful. At one of their first stops after departing Pittsburgh, Hope had been awakened from a deep sleep when their car was switched during the night. The jarring motion had thrust her body forward and she'd banged her head against the end of her berth. A knot the size of a goose egg had emerged beneath her auburn hair and remained for days. Upon hearing her complain later in the day, one of the trainmen had been quick to tell her that those who traveled for free shouldn't complain.

After the worker marched off, her father had taken Hope aside and explained that when a chapel car was attached to a train, the railroad provided the service at no cost to the missionaries, and the rail passes that permitted them to ride for free were an act of goodwill offered by the railroad officials.

She hadn't realized that a complaint about layovers or traveling conditions could result in the withdrawal of such charity.

Since then she'd attempted to withhold her complaints, but occasionally she still slipped up.

Hope peered out the window as the fringes of the small town came into view. There was no telling exactly how long they'd be here. At extended layovers, her father would put his preaching and carpentering skills to work among the people, though Hope was eager to get to Finch where they would truly begin their work. Before accepting his assignment in Finch, her father had been advised the town was without a preacher and the need was great. He'd agreed to remain as long as the association believed his services were required in the small coal-mining town.

Although some of the chapel cars stopped for only a few days in each town before continuing onward, others remained for extended periods in areas where there was no church. Sometimes the chapel car preachers remained until a permanent parson arrived or until a church was constructed. According to Hope's father, a few of the preachers had remained in the same town for several years. She wasn't certain she wanted to live in Finch for years, but she was eager to be in one place for more than a few days.

"We'll hold services here at seven o'clock. Now, I'm going into town to see if there's a church and permanent preacher." Her father pointed out the window. "Looks like they'll move us onto that spur once the baggage is unloaded."

Hope pushed up from the table. "May I come with you? I can pass out tracts and invite folks to attend tonight's meeting. I didn't get many leaflets thrown from the train, so unless we go and invite folks, we may not have much of a turnout." She gave what she hoped was a convincing smile. "Besides, I'd like to see the town, and school should soon be out. It will give me a good opportunity to invite the children to my class."

She longed to do everything she could to prove her presence would be a help to him and to the chapel car ministry. Thus far, her father had been particularly pleased with her assistance in the musical portion of the services and with the children, but she also hoped to do her part to encourage attendance at their meetings.

Before Hope joined her father on the chapel car, the small organ that sat in a corner near the pulpit had remained silent, and her father had relied upon a gramophone to assist with the musical portion of the service. After one of their first services together, he said he thought folks came to hear her organ playing even more than to hear his sermon. Hope had been quick to say he was mistaken, yet his compliment had given her great joy. For so long she'd missed having her father near, and his praise had warmed her heart.

Each evening after she played the final strains of the closing hymn, Hope's thoughts shifted from music to the children. Her father enjoyed youngsters, but keeping them quiet in the cramped railcar was difficult, so he'd readily agreed to her proposed classes for the children. His consent had furthered her prospects of remaining with him and given her the opportunity to use the skills she'd acquired while teaching children at the church she and Aunt Mattie had attended each Sunday. Using Aunt Mattie's Bible teaching and the instruction she'd received in Sunday school and church, Hope's lessons with the youngsters had proved a success at their first stops.

She'd been especially thankful for Aunt Mattie's instruction to trust Jesus and find joy in all circumstances. That lesson had served Hope well during the first months after her own mother's death. And because of Aunt Mattie's teachings, Hope had been able to share and encourage several motherless children she'd met since their departure. She'd gone on to tell those children how Aunt Mattie would sit by her side while she read the Bible aloud each evening. Hope encouraged the older ones to read the Bible every day. While they likely didn't have an Aunt Mattie to sit alongside them, she told the children to think of God sitting at their side and to know He would be pleased with their devotion. Just as her faith had deepened through the years, she wanted the same for all of these children, especially those who had suffered loss and were hurting.

Her father gathered a stack of flyers and divided them in half. He smiled and nodded at one of the mounds. "You take those and I'll hand out the rest. Looks like we're going to have good weather for the rest of the day."

She nodded. "No need to ask about using the train station for my lesson with the children." On the rare occasions when the weather hadn't cooperated, they secured permission to meet in the train stations. But the clear skies and billowing clouds overhead indicated perfect weather.

Together, they stepped off the train and headed into town. Her father's tall frame still made her feel like a little girl when she walked at his side. She reached up and placed her hand in the crook of his arm. As they crossed the train tracks, she glanced about. After seeing those men at the tavern, Hope wasn't sure what to expect, but she was pleasantly surprised as she and her father walked the main street of town. Though few in number, the buildings that lined the brick street in the main portion of town were reasonably maintained. And, if one could judge from the wares displayed in the windows and crates in front of the Brookfield businesses, the stores were well-stocked.

Hope displayed a bright smile as they handed out tracts and visited with folks. When she spotted a young woman with two small children in tow, Hope asked for directions to the schoolhouse and inquired what time the children would be dismissed for the day. As four o'clock approached, she gained her father's approval and headed off toward the school located on the outskirts of town, with his admonition to be careful ringing in her ears.

The woman's directions had proved accurate, and Hope spied the schoolhouse in the distance — a rather small frame building in need of repair and a fresh coat of paint. She'd mention the project to her father. No doubt he'd have it in fine shape before they departed. While the few schools she'd visited since leaving Pittsburgh didn't resemble those she attended as a child, she soon learned that families placed a higher value on physical labor than education. Consequently, schools were constructed where they would gain maximum attendance from the surrounding farms and from the families living and working in the small towns.


Excerpted from The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller. Copyright © 2017 Judith Miller. Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
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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The Chapel Car Bride 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
Thursday, May 4, 2017 The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller, © 2017 I have loved Judith Miller's historical stories since reading her Postcards from Pullman series. I was unaware of Chapel Cars sent out to unreached areas, linked to trains going in that direction and set off on a spur sidetrack until another train came along going to their destination. In the meantime, they ministered where they were if even for a day or two stop, inviting local families, and railroad workers to a service designated for them. In this story, Hope Irvine joins her missionary father for the first time, playing the organ for worship, and spreading a blanket outdoors and teaching the children. As the chapel car came to a town, they handed out flyers inviting those to attend the evening meeting. Luke Hughes lives in a coal-mining town with his family in West Virginia. As their father has died, he feels the obligation to care for his mother and younger siblings. His father's brother has looked out for them as well. Upon the arrival of the chapel car, Luke is interested in attending services since their church had burned down years earlier. Historical fiction is so interesting to me, to learn about parts of history and locations we may never travel to or have heard about. Kirby Finch is sent by his father to learn responsibility manning their coal mine in Finch. Who we are follows us, as Kirby continues to follow his own lead. Sadly, externally he attends chapel car meetings but does not take inward the benefit he could receive. He manages to schedule laid-off miner Luke to work in the mines to enable him to spend time with the preacher's daughter apart from interference. I liked reading about how Hope and Luke's sister Nellie joined Kirby on his trips to other town areas, to bring the children stories and Sunday-school papers to have for their own. A direct input that will carry forth into their remembrance in adulthood. Kirby may have had other ideas, but the Lord prevailed. Trust and Obey ~ This hymn reflects Hope's daily delight in meeting with the women in their homes, as she gains their trust in a stranger coming among their families who have long lived alone without any interruptions or input into their days. ***Thank you, author Judith Miller, and Bethany House for sending a print copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Kathae More than 1 year ago
I had never heard of chapel railroad cars before, so it was interesting to learn something new as I read this book. I appreciated Hope's joy in serving the Lord, whether it was leading the singing during services, teaching the children, or helping to repair people's homes. Her father, the preacher, also had a servant's heart. When he wasn't preparing a sermon, he was counseling, or helping in the community. The plot moved forward through the conflicts of the mining families with the managers of the mines. Romance and historical fiction fans will enjoy this cozy romance, set in the coal mining hills of West Virginia in the early 1900's. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for review purposes. The thoughts expressed here are my own.
CarolJo More than 1 year ago
Life with her aunt in Pittsburgh was quite different from the life Hope finds in the coal mining town of Finch, West Virginia! Hope is a strong character who lives with her father in a small portion of the railroad chapel car. Luke Hughes may have grown up with no other options but working in the mines or making moonshine to care for his widowed mother siblings but he wants to work for God. You will learn how the mine owners keep the impoverished people dependent upon them. The Chapel Car Bride was an interesting read.
BethErin More than 1 year ago
Hope is a loving daughter and a compassionate young woman. She might be a bit naive but Hope is determined to work alongside her father in the chapel car organizing services and meeting people's needs in small communities along the rail lines. Hope is the kind of gal who has a big heart and makes friends with ease. Luke has grown up in a small West Virginia mining town where folks work hard day in and day out but rarely get ahead. He has a heartwarming relationship with his mother and younger siblings and he's patiently maturing into a solid man of faith. Luke is a natural leader and protector.  The Chapel Car Bride is a lovely, well-balanced story with a touch of danger, a sweet little romance, and a healthy dose of Christian love. My granny grew up in a small mining community around this time period so for me, this book has an added sentimental value. Nicely done! I requested the opportunity to read this book through the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.
Sharon__C More than 1 year ago
I was immensely intrigued by this book’s heroine, pleased with the story’s overall tone and pacing, and very happy with Judith Miller’s most recent work!
RobinWillson More than 1 year ago
I didn’t know that there were Pullman chapel cars. They only stayed in an area for a short time bringing God's message to isolated areas that did not have a resident preacher. Hope is a good name for this character. After living apart from him for some time, she convinces her father to let her go with him to extend missionary services to a small community. They travel in the chapel car, where they live and hold church services. Two men come into her life. Only one genuinely cares for her but she has a hard time seeing them clearly – not realizing the situation she’s being put in. Engaging characters, very well written tale that keeps you on the edge until the end. Good lessons in faith, learning who you are and caring throughout. Another fabulous book from Judith Miller! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Bethany House Publishers - Netgalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
I haven't had the chance to read anything by Judith until now. I was intrigued by the plot and setting of this book. I have to say I will definitely be reading her books in the future. This book is rich in character development and the unique setting of a chapel train car. I also appreciated that this story is so much centered around spreading the God News of Jesus Christ. That is difficult to do and still maintain an interesting plot and love story. But Judith managed to do it. Hope is a determined young woman who won't let anything stand in her way when it comes to sharing the good news. Luke is a wonderful hero who shows up always just in time. Overall I really enjoyed this book. If you like historical romance I think you will like this one. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own. 
SavannaKaiser More than 1 year ago
I had never heard of a chapel car before and it was interesting to see how the car created a unique backdrop for this entire story. If you enjoy historical fiction, this book delivers. It weaves a soft story of love and faith against hard-learned lessons of honesty and trust. I liked Hope and her open heart towards others. She is dedicated to her ministry with her father and always believes the best in everyone. However, she’s also naive and at times misguided. Luke loves the Lord and is a hard worker. He compliments Hope in many ways and I could see how the two of them would be drawn to each other. Even so, their love story felt strained to me at times and the ups and downs of their relationship weren’t always believable. The “bad guy” of the story was a little predictable to me as well, but his role succeeded in pushing the plot forward. I didn’t connect with this book as much as I would have hoped, but it’s still a pleasant story for history lovers. It’s a gentle tale of life in the early 1900s of West Virginia. I received a free copy from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
I loved this story. I had never heard of a chapel car before. It is a wonderful idea to take a chapel to the small towns through the use of a train. It is fascinating. I love all the characters in this book. They are great together. Every character needs to learn some very interesting lessons throughout this story. Can Hope and Luke get together? I received this book from Bethany House for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
The Chapel Car Bride is a nice story but the characters where kind of flat - not much developed. Hope is on the train that goes town to town telling the people about JESUS (she tells the children mostly her father tells everyone else), until she gets to Finch. She gets there and meets Luke and Kirby - one is a good one with good intentions and the other is a bad one with not so good intention. She shares the joy of JESUS with them and one accepts HIM and the other well you can guess. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. These opinions are all my own.
Britney_Adams More than 1 year ago
The Chapel Car Bride is an engaging story! Offering a vivid glimpse into the past, I delighted in the details shared concerning chapel car ministry and coal mining. I love learning bits of history when I read! It was a pleasure to meet Hope Irvine and her father, endearing characters with hearts for service and helping others. With elements of drama, intrigue, and romance, I enjoyed this journey back in time and look forward to reading more from Judith Miller. I received a complimentary copy of this book. No review was required, and all thoughts expressed are my own.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller begins in the spring of 1913. Hope Irvine along with her father, Reverend Layton Irvine, a traveling missionary, are traveling on Herald of Hope chapel car train. Hope had been living with her Aunt Mattie in Pittsburgh until her passing. It took some work, but Hope convinced her father to let her travel with him. She will be able to assist with the children and play the organ for the services. Their new assignment will take them to Finch, West Virginia. They temporarily stop in Brookfield where Hope is accosted by four ruffians and a miner traveling through town comes to her rescue. They finally arrive in Finch and Hope meets the miner once again. Luke Hughes works for the Finch Mining and Company along with everyone else who lives on the hill in Finch. Miners are having a hard time since hours have been cut and they are finding other ways to make money. Kirby Finch got into trouble once again and his father has sent him to Finch to work. Kirby is more interested in making quick, easy money that will allow him to escape what he considers a backwater town. Kirby believes Hope will provide a nice diversion while he is in town and then he comes up with a plan. Kirby offers to drive Hope to neighboring towns where she can teach the children about God and the Bible. Luke knows that there must be another reason for Kirby’s generosity, and he is determined to find out the reason. Luke is jealous of the time Kirby is spending with Hope. He has gotten to know Hope and is falling in love. But he does not feel worthy of such a wonderful woman. What is Kirby up to and is Hope being put in danger? Is there a chance for a future between Hope and Luke? The Chapel Car Bride is nicely written and has an interesting concept. I had not heard about chapel cars previously and it was interesting to find out more about them. I was, though, disappointed with Judith Miller’s latest work. It was nicely written, but it was not up to her usual standard. The characters were not fleshed out or brought to life (flat). Hope is a naïve, upbeat, devout young woman who believes the best in everyone (I am surprised little birds did not fly around her head singing sweet tunes). Luke is the poor, handsome yet godly man who struggles with his cynicism of Kirby (yawn). The story builds up to Kirby and what he has been doing in Finch. The conclusion to this storyline is very anticlimactic. All the sudden it is over. I thought it was wrapped up to quickly and neatly. The pace of the book is slow. When you keep checking to see if you are closer to the end, you know the book is creeping along. I give The Chapel Car Bride 3 out of 5 stars (it is okay). It is a sweet romance novel, but I just thought it needed more (complexity, depth, feeling). It was too predictable for me. Some issues are never discussed in detail (the father’s illness and recovery as well as the mining accident are good examples). There is a light, Christian element throughout the book (information about Bible stories and prayer). I have read all of Judith Miller’s works, and this is the first one to disappoint me.
ARS8 More than 1 year ago
The Chapel Car Bride was an interesting historical story taking place in the early 1900’s in West Virginia. I had not ever heard of chapel cars before or of their ministry as preachers would travel from town to town to take God’s message to folks. Especially in this story, Hope and her father are bringing the message to those who live in mining towns. We also get a look at how closed off the towns could be when strangers came. This is no surprise as there is very little trust between the miners and the mine owners, especially the dangerous conditions the miners worked in for low pay and the mine owners’ reluctance to change anything due to their greed. This also takes place during the time of prohibition. The extra money that the miners make on their illegal moonshine that they sell to the speakeasies and the animosity between them and the revenuers sent to stop them is a powder keg about to explode. This is what Hope and her father ride into when they stop at their destination, the town of Finch. They are not the only newcomers as Kirby Finch, the son of Mr. Finch and the mine owner has come as well to squelch any strike talk or union uprisings. In the midst of all this drama we do have and old-fashioned love story that begins to take root between Hope and Luke, a local town resident and mine worker. But throw in all the dangers, mistrust, and jealousy and you have a story that takes you back to an interesting time in our nation’s history. I very much enjoyed this intriguing snapshot of a historical tidbit I knew nothing of. I received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to post a positive review and all the views and opinions expressed are my own.
Laundry_Whispers More than 1 year ago
I looked forward to this book when I was notified by Bethany House that I was approved to receive it. Chapel Cars are something I didn't even know was a thing and I was excited for the opportunity to learn more. It was obvious that the author had done their research on the ministry as well as the areas in which the story was set. The attitudes and personalities of the mine communities were well portrayed. However, there were so many other areas where the story fell flat and never recovered. Just a heads up, I'll use the term flat a lot. I probably should pull the thesaurus and find synonyms but ya get flat. The characters were flat with very little depth making them difficult to bond with. That's a biggie for me. Bonding with characters, loving or despising them draws me into whatever story they have to tell. Kirby seemed developed at first but faded to flatness. Hope is too perfect with very little to create a rounded character. Luke is the same, yes he struggles with feeling judgemental and gets called on that by perfect Hope, but he has reason to feel that way. Ad without that would the story have ever developed? Even supporting characters weren't well defined which left them adding little to the story, as well. A lack of connection with character creates a lack of connection with the story line. The story line fell flat too. Too many things that should have been and could have been used to build plot and characters were glossed over. When the Reverend has the accident at the rebuilding of the church and everyone races down the hill to get to him and transported to the doctor's. The intensity ended right there. He's in the doctor's while they are all banished from the room. And it never picked back up. They aren't certain what happened to cause him to fall, some pretty big things are thrown out with no followup. He's got a bit of amnesia but that's glossed over. His entire recovery is glossed over. It missed every single option it had to add to and build to the story. What about the mine explosion? Not a rare thing to happen in a coal mine, though not an everyday occurrence either but it was left to hang. Everyone races to the mine to help and recover the miners inside. The inspectors come in and Kirby throws out some ideas and makes a few things happen in one paragraph but then it's never followed up on. Big introduction then a fade to nothing with in a few paragraphs. So much could have been done with that to bolster the story and the characters. With flat characters comes a flattened plot and flatter storytelling. This book had the promise of all the right elements but failed to become dimensional. The first half of the book took forever for me to get through. I'd read for chapter breaks where typically chapter breaks are my reason to have to stop so that the sleep thing can attempt to happen. The book has promise and I am glad I chose to finish it, however I would be selective of the audience I would recommend it to. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
rubber_duckie91 More than 1 year ago
“Only God could truly bring the hope these people needed-the hope she needed. He was the hope that anchored their souls.” The Chapel Car Bride is a work of historical fiction by Judith Miller. The story is set in 1913 and is the story of a young girl named Hope Irvine who joins her preacher father on his chapel car, the Herald of Hope, after her aunt passes away. While traveling along with her father she finds love, friendship, family, and maybe more of an adventure than what she originally bargained for. I really wanted to love this book but unfortunately I never got there. This book wasn’t terrible but it is also not one of those books that works it’s way into my soul. Judith Miller is definitely a brilliant writer in the way she weaves her stories together and with the variety of characters she creates. My favorite part about this book was how openly and beautifully she expresses her own beliefs through the writing in this book. I also loved the plot of this book and the story that she was telling, however, the character of Hope seemed to fall a little flat. When reading this book you have zero doubt of Miller’s devout faith and belief in God. It seems so rare these days that people are unafraid to speak out on their beliefs and religious views due to fear of being persecuted or of offending others and this book was a much needed breath of fresh air. Just this one aspect has me wanting to give her other books a try in hopes that they are just as honest. The plot of this book was a beautiful story of a girl who is on a journey of not only coming into her womanhood but of also finding what her calling from God is and how she can best serve him and help her father’s ministry. She comes into her own teaching the children of the communities about the Bible and by helping her father with the music for the chapel car. When her and her father reach their final destination of Finch, West Virginia this story really takes off as Hope begins to fall in love and make friendships that will last her a lifetime. Hope also finds herself in a bit of a troublesome spot when her desire to help children and her sheltered life lead her to be too trusting of a mine manager how has an alternative motive for helping her. What kept this book from completely sweeping me off of my feet was how flat Hopes character. seemed to me. I kept hoping for her to change and develop more but it never happened. While making one of the stops along their way to Finch Hope runs into form trouble with a few men who stalk her and make inappropriate advances toward her. She chose to ignore the incident in hopes her father wouldn’t find out and send her back to Pittsburgh. Despite keeping it a secret from her father one would expect her to be way more cautious and careful of other people. Instead she appears to stay her innocent, trusting, and sheltered and gets herself into a very dangerous situation with a young man who is out to help only himself. I was so disappointed in how long it took her to begin suspecting him of any wrongdoing and how simply naive the character remained through the whole book. I would have loved to have seen just a little more growth from her and for her trusting nature to harden just a little bit. Overall I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend reading it or at least checking out some of Miller’s other works. *I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review. *
SeasonsofGrace More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book from the first chapter, in which Hope loses her hat and ends up facing a pretty rowdy group of men over it. Her father begins to have second thoughts about bringing her on this mission. Historical fiction is probably one of my favorite genres, so this book was appealing to me. I loved learning about the railroad chapel car time period and the small mining communities, as well as, the struggles the miners endured. I also really enjoyed the characters in this book. Hope was sweet, stubborn, and very lovable. She displayed a humble heart and a contagious love for God and helping people. I totally admired her father's faithfulness to the ministry and spreading the gospel to the small towns along the railroad lines. Maybe that comes from being reminded of my own parents dedication as missionaries for many years. And Luke, Hope's suitor, is a dedicated Bible scholar, yet demonstrates qualities of humanity in that he gets angry, jealous, and struggles with God answering his prayers. Kirby Finch, mine owner's son, was a guy you would love to hate. Seriously, spoiled rich brat, basically sums him up! He does what he wants, is sneaky and conniving, and pretty much only out to please himself. He takes advantage of people with no regard to how it may affect them, so long as it benefits him. Yet, he is smooth with the ladies and easily worms his way into their affections. ARGH!! Guys like him get under my skin! The book is not extremely humorous, but has a lightheartedness about it, with a few mildly intense moment, such as when Kirby gets stopped by the revenuers, or when Hope has to face a group of intoxicated men alone, and a few more I will leave for you to discover. I didn't really find myself laughing outright at anything in particular. There are a few sad moments, such as, when Hope's father falls ill, and Luke is struggling with indecision about his relationship with Hope. You just want to step in and cheer them on! There are several times your blood may get to boiling a bit, but overall it is a pretty steady read. Interesting, yet not necessarily over the edge on one extreme or the other. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a historical romance. I even took a little time to look up a railroad chapel car, when I finished the book. Judith did a great job keeping the book engaging with clean romance. I am giving it 4 stars. I received a free copy of this book courtesy of Bethany House to read. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.
Nicnac63 More than 1 year ago
The Chapel Car Bride is a sweet, clean, Christian historical that takes place in the early 1900s. Prior to this book, I’d never heard of a chapel car ministry, so I found this premise especially interesting. The authentic ‘old-timey’ feel this story emits quickly drew me in. The descriptions are clear but not overly done, and I was able to visualize and sense the atmosphere of the time period. Her heart pulsed a beat that resounded in her ears. She tamped down her fear and glanced over her shoulder. There was no one in sight. She sighed in relief as she stepped forward. Likely she’d heard nothing more than some birds nesting in the trees. ~excerpt Hope Irvine is a kind and innocent young woman, which I found mostly admirable, but somewhat saccharine-ish at times. I wish she had stronger weaknesses, something that gnawed at her, or something she fought against so that she’d be easier to sympathize with. He simply assumed the preacher was her husband. Embarrassment seized him, but was quickly replaced by a sense of unexpected exhilaration. This lovely young woman wasn’t married—wasn’t even betrothed. At least he didn’t think she was. There he went again, jumping to conclusions. ~excerpt Overall, I love the premise of this book, and found ministering from a chapel car an exciting and inspiring aspect in this story (and in history.) The romance is wholesome, and this is an entertaining read. I only wish the pacing was faster and the characters were a bit more flawed. 3.5 Stars I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and NetGalley.
NDowning More than 1 year ago
I thought this story by Judith Miller had the potential to be good and quite captivating. The history was intriguing. I had never heard of Chapel Car churches before. I also think the setting of the story was interesting, the hills of West Virginia in the early 1900s, with coal miners and bootleggers. But the story was a disappointment. What I typically like about romance stories is the tension or conflicts between the main characters. There is some obstacle that each of them need to overcome, or some issue from the past that they need to deal with before they can truly pursue a relationship with the other person. This story? Nothing. It was kind of flat and one dimensional. The author didn't have any issues that the characters needed to overcome until the last few chapters. I almost felt it was an afterthought. Okay, one last point while I'm complaining...the title of the book. The Chapel Car Bride? That was a bit deceiving since (spoiler alert), they didn't get married until the last page! I would give this book 2 out of 5 stars. Bethany House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Becky5 More than 1 year ago
Once again, Judith Miller takes the reader to historic West Virginia. This time, The Chapel Car Bride tells of a young woman,Hope Irvine, who accompanies her father to minister in "the chapel car" of a train as they travel to the coal mining town of Finch. I loved the character of Luke. He is so kind, committed to his family to a fault, eager to learn about the Lord. I also loved the character of Kirby, or rather, his characterization. While being very arrogant and lazy, and a person to twist reality, it was very easy to imagine him. Miller well-describes the economy and attitudes of the hill people. She truly captures the flavor of coal mining Appalachia in the early 20th century. I gratefully received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am voluntarily leaving a review and all opinions are my own.
amvkv More than 1 year ago
It’s fascinating to read about a part of history you knew nothing about, and that’s was my experience when reading THE CHAPEL CAR BRIDE by one of my favorite authors, Judith Miller. I did not know chapel cars existed, but 13 of them traveled and carried God’s message across the rails. After finishing the book, upon further investigation I found the HERALD OF HOPE chapel car really did travel to West Virginia and work among the miners. One of the chapel car logs stated, “Lumber camp, church built, many wicked lumbermen changed to the better” ( Hope and her preacher father traveled in a chapel car to a impoverished mining town which whose owner keeps its miners in debt through rent and the company store scam. Hope plays the organ at the chapel car, leads singing, and teaches the children. One of the young miners is a man of God, so, of course, Hope and Luke are drawn to each other. That would be fine except enter into the picture Kirby Finch, the mine owner’s son who has gotten in trouble again in Pittsburgh. His father is tired of bailing his lazy son out of gambling and other problems so he sends him to this small, mining town. Luke sees through Kirby’s deceitful ways, and battles jealousy and mistrust while trying to live for God and study to become a minister. Kirby volunteers to take Hope to nearby towns so they can deliver supplies and work with the children. Luke knows there has to be something else going on. Kirby is not that caring. Add to the mix the illegal moonshine business going on, and there is plenty of conflict to keep you plenty interested until the end. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.
lsnlj More than 1 year ago
Actually 3.5 - 4.0 stars I have read other Judith Miller stories that I enjoy more than this one. It was not my favorite but is was not to bad either. The plot does tend to drag a bit, yet I wanted to find out how it would end in the long run. Hope Irvine is the chapel car preachers daughter. She has a love for the Lord and a willingness to serve him in some difficult circumstances. She tends to think the best of all even to a fault. Luke Hughes is a rugged mine worker who too loves the Lord and feels a desire to preach. When he finds he has feelings for Hope will it ever work out or are there just to many differences. Kirby Finch, the mine owners son, also plays an important part in this novel. Will he ever truly change his ways or is he just to far gone?
Emme_Faith_Church More than 1 year ago
This book is a work of historical fiction. The setting is an interesting one that I personally much enjoyed. Things I really liked: 1. The plot. I thought the plot was well-written and engaging. 2. The spiritual side. Hope's (the main character's) dad is a preacher sent out as a 'missionary' to town. The fun part? He goes in a chapel car! Now I have seen a lot of books with 'missionary' themes--but never have they led services and lived in a chapel car. 3. The characters. Hope, her father, and Luke were my personal favorites! I loved especially Luke's faith. 4. The struggles. It's so neat to see the personal journeys of the characters involved. Luke has to get over jealousy, Hope's patience is tested, and a young man makes bad decisions--but repents. All-in-all I would recommend this book! It's a clean read and also a read that will keep you interested throughout. *Note: I received a copy of the book from Bethany House (thank you, by the way!) in exchange for an honest review. No favorable review was required--all opinions here expressed were my own and biased only by myself :D .
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
I love reading about historical facts that are woven into a storyline that captivates your attention. Judith Miller never fails to draw you in with her well researched novels and leaves you wanting more. Life is hard in 1913 for coal miners in WV and making moonshine on the side to support their children is a tradition that is still carried on today. The characters are believable and you get to see the good and bad side of people. This novel has depth and leaves you thinking about the hardships that people have endured to survive. Chapel cars are an interesting facet of our heritage and carrying the Gospel via train wasn't for the faint hearted. The romance is well done and has you cheering for things to work out between Hope and Luke, because of the obstacles and obligations they each face. I highly recommend this. I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishing. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
I love when I pick up a novel for one reason and end up learning about the history of things I had never heard about. In the case of Judith Miller's latest novel, The Chapel Car Bride, the history of chapel cars is the setting for this historical romance novel. Pastor Layton Irvine and his 19-year-old daughter Hope journey along the railroads visiting the towns that they pass and offer a traveling church if you will to the residents of those towns known as the Herald of Hope chapel car. It is a service the railroads provide free when they can and often times requires the chapel car to stay on the spur line, until the next train can take them a bit further. This has offered Hope the opportunity to travel with her father and minister to the children of these small towns where churches haven't even been built yet. With their final destination in the small town of Finch, Hope and Layton offer more than just spiritual teachings. They also help out the town's residents in whatever needs to be done such as repairing buildings, bringing food to those who need it and befriending those families struggling to find hope in their small town existence. The town of Finch is a mining town that is wary of outsiders. They have had their share of people coming to town trying to take advantage of them or to steal their very livihoods while the families struggle to make ends meet while working whatever hours the Finch Mine and Company offers. Lately with a slow down in production and unsafe working conditions, the mine is struggling to make a profit. Luke Hughes is one of those men who is trying to find a way to help his family after losing his father in a mining accident he believes that the Finch Mine and Company is responsible for. It seems as if the owner of the mine have sent Kirby Finch, his son to find out what has been going on at the mine and to ensure that no one is considering forming a strike against them. Kirby is being forced into the position due to his gambling debts in Pittsburgh which his father consistently has to bail him out of. Hope Irvine believes that if the mining company would be willing to pay for the repairs needed in the mining cabins they provide for the workers, it might just be the thing to appease the workers and create a more friendly working environment and open up negotiations between the two. Kirby sees it as advantageous to offer small concessions but his has his mind set on improving his own lot in life, even if that means making some cuts in mining safety and finding other resources to supplement his income so he can leave this small town, and Hope just might make passing the time worthwhile. I received The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller compliments of Net Galley and Bethany House Publishers. This is such a great novel because it conveys the living conditions of those living in a small mining town and how they would find ways to make a living when faced with lay offs. Hard to believe some mining companies would take advantage of these workers and force them to take their wages in supplies provided by the mining companies stores and raise the prices to keep the workers in debt to the company so they have to find other ways to make a living if they hope to move on. I give this novel a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my opinion and can't wait to read more novels from Judith Miller!