This novella was just released in anticipation of Miracle in a Dry Season which debuts later this summer. I am very excited as I love Sarah (she even taught me how to say Appalachian properly at ACFW last year) and I know she has a successful writing career ahead of her!
Here, we are introduced to the picturesque Appalachian town of Wise, West Virginia and given a glimpse into the quirky and colourful cast of characters who will populate Miracle including heroine Perla's widowed aunt, Delilah and shopkeeper Robert.
Appalachian Serenade is a treatise on yearning. Free from an unhappy marriage, Delilah confronts the empty space inside herself that always wanted children. Now, 34 and without romantic prospects, she has returned from Chicago to Wise to live with her sister , her niece Perla, and her brother-in-law in an attempt to patch up a fragmented life. One in which the deepest desires of her heart seem too far from reach.
Robert is immediately attracted to Delilah, remembering her from years earlier. A mature bachelor without even a nephew to carry on the store, Robert has long avoided marriage due to his inability to have a family. Now, with his growing attraction to Delilah--whom he hires to be his assistant-- he is confronted with a palpable realization of a dream for a wife and home that might still evade him.
This is a very character driven snapshot ---a patch of quilt, as it were, that will be sewn into the greater story as a whole. The sample chapters of Miracle are included at the end of the novella.
I was really stricken by the story especially because it came from a place of a yearning unfulfilled. As well, a piece of woman so circumscribed to believe that motherhood equals fulfilment as a female. It hurt me to see Delilah confronted by her belief that this was a woman's main goal. Luckily, the story is also a rumination on how God can patch up families from the most unlikely of places and Delilah and Robert are able to take a step toward an unconventional happy ending; but one which will fulfil them anyways.
This was a sweet taste of Thomas' straightforward and charming style which readers will enjoy settling into like a creaky swing on a porch. There's part of this nostalgic flavour that makes me feel like I'm finding home....
A few quotes:
"Yes, Perla should dream her dreams now, before she learned how rarely life lived up to dreams."
"It tasted like childhood"
"That's a ....regionally specific compliment."
"Sometimes God gives you strength to do without because, for whatever reason, he knows it's better for you not to have your heart's desire"
"If marriage were only about having children, I think women would have given up the institution long ago."
"You need a man who will challenge you, who will encourage you to be better than you are. A man who compliments you and loves on you is a good thing, but the real prize is a man who tells you when you're wrong and when you're taking the easy way out."
"Maybe that's how I'll know I've found true love--when I find a man who will eat burnt biscuits and dry pork chops."
"You're my heart, I'm not sure how it happened but if I were to lose you, this secondhand heart I have beating in my chest might go on, but my family would never be complete."
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