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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Then Came Heaven by LaVyrle Spencer

An old friend, high school classmate, recommended this book to me because of the Minnesota setting and the Catholic Polish church, characters, and era.  It happens to be the last book that this author wrote, published in 1997.  It is set in the fictitious MN town of Browerville, MN in the 1950's.. So I found it at our library book sale and will be redonating it back to them.  I read it end of May and early June and really struggled to continue reading it.  The story is ok, but trite, this is not a genre for me, but apparently this author is very popular among women here because the sale shelf had many of her books.  If this women's type story is appealing, the reader would enjoy it.  I found it too simple.  
Author LaVyrle Spencer
Eddie Olczack is the church custodian and maintenance man and lives near with his wife, Krystyna,  and two daughters, Anne and Lucy. They are both from traditional Polish Catholic families.  As it opens, the wife is killed in an auto accident  and everyone mourns.  The daughters attend the church Catholic school and sister  Regina is their teacher.  Before the tragedy. the sister is questioning her suitability to continue life in the convent and ultimately leaves.  She has been groomed from her earliest days to become a nun by her grandmother, so the family is disappointed. Sister Regina has developed an attachment to the girls and also to Eddie, who is himself a devout Catholic and questions his own feelings. Meantime Krystyna's surviving sister, Irene, who has never married and lives at home has always had a crush on Eddie.  Besides mourning for her sister, she wants to help this widower and her nieces and sets out to help them daily. Ultimately Eddie will reject Irene.  

The writing is not bad, Pages 30-31 describe some of Eddie's horrid feelings  in grief,  "But it wasn't all right.  Krystyna was dead and it would never be all right again.  ......So much easier to think of common everyday responsibilities than of this huge and stultifying thing he was being forced to accept.  ...."

Page 46, Sister Regina realizes being a nun might not be right for her. " She'd thought Benedictine communal life would mean strength and support and constant peace within.  A strifeless valley of serenity whose sacrifice and prayer and hard work would bring an inner happiness leaving nothing more wanting.  Instead it meant silence when communication was called for, withdrawal when it was sympathy that was needed and a Litany for the Faithful Departed when it was tears that were needed."

Pages 49 and 50 describe the Polish antidote, bring food,"Where the cake came from so fast, Eddie couldn't guess but he wasn't surprised, these women thought food was the antidote to any crisis." 

 This tragic tale and love story continues over 331 pages.  . As I commented, not my genre and not an author whom I would read again, but for  very light romantic reading this might suit some.  I give this 2 ** because I do not enjoy this type. 


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