My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Perla Long returns to Wise, West Virginia in 1954, the single 24-year-old has a five-year-old daughter Sadie in tow. Tongues are soon wagging and Perla wonders, will she ever find a place where questions about her past don’t run her out of town?
Casewell Phillips is charmed by Sadie and fascinated with Perla’s blue-eyed beauty. But at 35, he is not about to trade in his bachelor status for a relationship with a woman of questionable repute.
Sarah Loudin Thomas has combined the characters above with a church full of judgmental parishioners, egged on by hellfire and brimstone Pastor Longbourne, a rainless summer, and Perla’s wondrous way with food to craft Miracle in a Dry Season. It’s a story about passing judgment and extending forgiveness, recognizing and accepting grace, and how “a child shall lead them.”
I enjoyed Loudin’s often lyrical way with words in passages like:
“Casewell … lifted his hand and held it over the child’s head for a moment, hovering there like a hummingbird taking the measure of a flower” – Kindle Location 512.
“She bowed her head, and he felt peace radiating out from her. But like a kerosene lamp on an icy morning, it could not reach his core” – K.L. 626.
However, I did find Thomas’s style tentative with an abundance of adverb modifiers that sucked the life out of her prose:
“’We’re going home,’ she said, looking at her husband with a depth and rawness that somehow embarrassed Casewell…” K.L. 638.
“He could taste the air. It seemed cleaner, richer somehow” – K. L. 2091.
“The landscape was still desolate but it looked somehow hopeful this morning” – K.L. 2097.
“… in spite of the tears she somehow looked happy” – K.L. 2126.
All in all, though, I enjoyed this romantic and folksy tale with its elements of the miraculous and its message that all of us have secrets and sins in our pasts and none of us make fit judges.
A set of discussion questions at the end of the book completes the volume.
I received Miracle in a Dry Season from the publisher, Bethany House, as a gift for the purpose of writing a review (via NetGalley which, as usual, delivered a problematic Kindle file with illegible first lines of chapters and all “Th” units missing from the book).