book

Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge and John Ward

About the Book:Book - Heart of the Country
Author: Rene Gutteridge with John Ward
Publisher: Tyndale
Publication Date: 2013
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Genre: Fiction; Contemporary/General
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: Usually I like stories that reconcile characters who have been distant, whether it’s after a dispute or separated by literal distance. This novelization offers no more unique a perspective than most prodigal returns sagas. Unfolding in the 300-plus pages is the life of Faith Carraway who has just found out her husband Luke is being investigated as is the company he worked for on suspicion of a Ponzi scheme. Leaving behind the New York life she and Luke built together – and one Faith became accustomed to, Faith heads back to the place she wasn’t sure she’d ever see again: Home. Once there, Faith reunites with her father and sister and tries to deal with her scared past.

Because I saw the film first, while reading the novel, it was much easier to visualize the scenes, places and people. Rene Gutteridge was asked to put John Ward’s script in novel form and while she is a talented author, I cannot say that this story suited my reader personality. It’s a time worn story that somehow seems more heart-tugging on screen whereas the novel offers a wider perspective of the emotions. That sounds contradictory, I realize so let me try to explain. On screen, I cared about the characters more than I did here. It wasn’t because the novel was “bad” or that it didn’t tell its tale decently, rather I felt it was stilted – it took a while for me to get “into” the story whereas the film offers the reasons for “why” in flashbacks, which keeps us more invested. What the novel does is offer four primary and varying first-person point of views – that of a mother, Faith, her sister Olivia, Luke and eventually a father. This tends to open more doors to the momentary emotions, however, I cannot say as it does anything for the long-term emotions and therefore the reasons behind the final choices.

Another disappointment in the book was the character, Lee. Granted, he is added as an attempt at a “distracting” romantic relationship for Faith – yet surprisingly, he is never a stumbling block – and the book ill uses him. In the film, you get to “know” him so much better even as limiting as it may be. There is history between he and faith that is never fully touched in the book whereas the film sets the scene for us to feel “comfortable” and understand the decisions the characters ultimately make – the film is more sensitive to Lee’s perspective and also, I think I liked Luke better in the script. Beyond that, the story is fine. There’s no unique indicators, however like any good work of fiction, it has scruples and takes care to help in convincing us that the characters are ultimately going to be okay. They may not have learned all they need by that last page, however, they are certainly moving towards that objective and are now more open to learning day by day what God has in store for them.

Synopsis: Faith and Luke Carraway have it all. Faith is a beautiful singer turned socialite while Luke is an up-and-coming successful businessman. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, he’s on the fast track as a rising young executive, and Faith is settling comfortably into her role as his wife. When rumors of the Michovs’ involvement in a Ponzi scheme reach Faith, she turns to Luke for confirmation, and he assures her that all is well. But when Luke is arrested, Faith can’t understand why he would lie to her, and she runs home to the farm and the family she turned her back on years ago. Meanwhile, Luke is forced to turn to his own family for help as he desperately tries to untangle himself from his mistakes. Can two prodigals return to families they abandoned, and will those families find the grace to forgive and forget? Will a marriage survive betrayal when there is nowhere else to run but home?

Book - Just 18 Summers, GutteridgeComing Next from Rene Gutteridge: After the tragic death of Butch Browning’s wife, Jenny, four families begin to realize how precious–and fleeting–their time together is. Each is at a different stage in life: Butch is facing single parenthood. The O’Reillys are expecting their first child. The Andersons are approaching an empty nest, and the Buckleys are so focused on providing their children with everything that they’ve forgotten what they truly need. With just eighteen summers before their children are grown, how do they make the most of that time when life so often gets in the way? As summer flies by, each of these parents must learn about guilt and grace . . . and when to hold on to their kids and when to let go. – April 2014

With thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes

 

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