In my effort to read more Christian fiction books, I decided to try CHARLOTTE FIGG TAKES OVER PARADISE by Joyce Magnin. I was in the mood for a feel good book, plus Ms. Magnin is almost a local author since she lives outside of Philadelphia. I am going to be very upfront when I tell you that this is not a typical read for me. I don't read a lot of Christian fiction, and when I do, it's usually more historical in nature.
I enjoyed CHARLOTTE FIGG and got exactly what I expected with from this novel. It was a cute, heartwarming story about faith and friendship, and it allowed to me to escape for a few hours. There was lots of humor and a few serious side stories; and it was just one of those books that give you the warm fuzzies. I especially enjoyed the messages about female friendship.
My favorite thing about CHARLOTTE FIGG were all of the unique characters. Of course, I really liked Charlotte, a recent widow who moves to Paradise and starts over with her life. When she faces one trial after the next, she finds that she has more inner strength than she ever imagined. It also didn't hurt that she had a wonderful support system of friends -- and boy were they special. Each woman that Charlotte met in Paradise was dealing with her own set of issues whether it be baggage from her past, spousal abuse, or even being set apart because of her appearance.
I find that I usually enjoy books about female friendships and this was no exception. I loved how Charlotte decided to start a women's softball team in an effort to find herself again. However, I also loved how much the concept of this team came to mean to each woman. Throughout the book, I could see how each woman not only benefited from playing on a team, but also how each one became a better (and stronger) woman as a result of their friendships.
Upon first glance, Paradise Trailer Park was filled with individuals whom many people would consider misfits or outcasts. I loved that Charlotte was able to see past her initial reactions and come to realize how special each person was (and how much they had to offer.) In fact, because of Charlotte's perseverance, all of Paradise became a much happier place to live.
CHARLOTTE FIGG TAKES OVER PARADISE is part of the Bright's Pond series; however, it definitely stands alone as a novel. THE PRAYERS OF AGNES SPARROW, a Library Journal Top 5 Pick for 2009, is the first book in this series. I admit that I am a little curious to read AGNES SPARROW now, and I just might pick it up the next time I'm in the mood for a comfort read! There is also a third book planned for the series -- GRISELDA TAKES FLIGHT; and an excerpt of this novel was included in the back of my book.
CHARLOTTE FIGG would make a good selection for Christian book clubs who are looking for a light read, although there are a few serious issues included in the story too. There were some good discussion questions included in the book to kick off your discussion. Some of the topics you might want to further explore include marriage, loss, grief, abuse, teamwork, friendships, secrets, and sacrifice.
I recommend CHARLOTTE FIGG TAKES OVER PARADISE to fans of Christian fiction or really anyone who enjoys a sweet story about friendship. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.