Sunday, April 12, 2009

Review: Love Mercy

Summary: After being widowed, Love Mercy Johnson has come to terms with her life in Morro Bay, California. She spends her time writing columns for a regional magazine, helping her in-laws work their ranch, and trying to move on. But her dreams of reconciliation with her long-estranged grandchildren come true when her eighteen-year- old brokenhearted granddaughter, Rett, unexpectedly shows up. Together they struggle to co-exist while confronting old resentments and painful memories. When a family crisis forges an unexpected connection between the two grieving women, they must discover if by working together, they can change their lives, and the lives of those they love, for the better. -- Berkley

Every once in awhile, I just love to read a sweet, entertaining book that just makes me feel good. LOVE MERCY by Earlene Fowler is exactly that! LOVE MERCY is just a heartwarming book that I could just sit back and enjoy. The story was charming, the characters were wonderful, and the writing was terrific; and after I finished this book, I felt really good and had a big smile on my face. Who can really say anything bad about a book that leaves you with the ultimate messages of hope and redemption? I'm not alone in my praise -- Publishers Weekly has already given LOVE MERCY a Starred Review!

This book has a little something for everyone, but I think what I enjoyed the most about this book were the wonderful cast of characters. It's hard not to adore Love Mercy and feel for her because she has experienced more heartache in her life than anyone should ever have to. I also thought her granddaughter Rett was an interesting character, and I thought she provided some humor to this story. I loved reading about their reconciliation and how they eventually came to terms with their own bitterness. I also liked the character of Mel who had quite a bit of baggage as well as a lot of secrets. She was another character who was struggling to find some peace and happiness in her life. They all were great characters in their own way and very memorable to me.

One thing that surprised me a little when I read LOVE MERCY were the amount of references to God and spirituality. I don't know why I was surprised (except that it wasn't really mentioned in the book description), and it was definitely something I really liked about this book. I felt like the ideas on faith and spirituality were not preachy in the slightest and they really added to my overall enjoyment. It was clear to me that faith is very important to Ms. Fowler, and I think she did a wonderful job of sharing that with her readers. There were some biblical references and talk of God, but what I especially enjoyed was seeing how Love Mercy came to terms with the disappointments in her life and her doubts about her faith.

LOVE MERCY is Earlene Fowler's latest novel, but some of you might know her as the author of the Benni Harper mysteries. When I was on my mystery kick many years ago, I remember reading FOOL'S PUZZLE and a few others in this series and really liking them. I was so happy to see Ms. Fowler's name again, but this time writing about women and their relationships with each other, their families and their friends. If you are a fan of the Bennie Harper mysteries, then I think you'll find yourself enjoying LOVE MERCY. You might also be happy to see a few of the characters in the mystery series showing up in LOVE MERCY.

I think LOVE MERCY would make a great book club pick, especially if your group enjoys talking about women and their relationships. There is a lot to touch on including all the dynamics of female relationships, parenting, loss, grief, forgiveness, and especially hope (to name a few.) I couldn't find a reader's guide, but I think there is plenty to talk about without a specific list of questions.

Check out the trailer for this book:

I definitely recommend LOVE MERCY if you like heartfelt books about women. I was very glad to see that Ms. Fowler intends to write more books with the characters in LOVE MERCY, and I can't wait to read them. There are definitely a few characters that I'd love to see again and a few more that I'd like to learn more about.

A big thanks to Kaitlyn from Penguin for sending me a copy of LOVE MERCY.

Make sure you come back tomorrow because Ms. Fowler will be stopping by and answering a few of my questions (and there might be another surprise too!)


Amy said...

This sounds like a nice one, Julie!

Beth F said...

I really love Fowler's mystery series -- I'm not quite caught up, but I've been enjoying the books.

Glad to see her standalone novel is terrific too!

I'll be back for the interview.

bermudaonion said...

Great review, Julie - I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

Anonymous said...

That first sentence made me do a double take, because I live in Morro Bay! And I see that big rock on the cover every day (it's kind of hard to avoid). Although the sandspit seems to be missing...

I read some of Fowler's Benni Harper mysteries years ago...those are also set in our county, although she changed the name of some of the towns.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great book. I've never read any of Fowler's books, but this one definitley sounds like something I would enjoy.

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

Great review, Julie. Sounds like a book I'd really like to read.