Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell

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I've read a few Lawana Blackwell books and liked them, as I recall. I often find the descriptions on the back of books to make the book appear to be much more mysterious and scary than it actually is. This book didn't disappoint in that regard either, though when you read the back description again, you can understand what it is saying.

However, I found this book quite nice to read. It's the story of an actress who had married for the third time and was secluded on her husband's estate, a man who treated her rather badly. She is given the opportunity to make a comeback in the acting world, but on her first public appearance she has a memory lapse and forgets her lines and is put in a hospital. Her estranged daughter takes her away to a secluded location where their relationship is repaired.

Anyway, this actress, Charlotte, takes this opportunity to befriend the people around her, taking an interest in two abused little boys and trying to renew her relationship with God. Her daughter, of course, falls in love with the local bookshop owner, etc. etc.

I really enjoyed this book. The landlady of the house where they lived was the local town gossip and it reminded me once again how harmful and unbecoming gossip is.

There were a couple other good things to take away from this book. One of them involves the boys who were mistreated by their stepmother. The scene is the stepmother's biological daughter throwing a fit and hitting and biting her and the stepmother's stricken look. "The only person she loved in the world had turned against her, at least for a while. When you loved but one person, he thought, your happiness rose and fell, depending on that person's treatment of you....If she could have but attempted to love him and Albert, and Father, perhaps she would not allow a baby's fit of anger to make her so sad. Perhaps, even, she would be three times as happy!"

How true. I think the more we reach out and attempt to love the people God has placed in our path, the more love and joy we will feel ourselves. When you love people, you want to make them happy and you aren't looking for ways to tear them down. Your search for their happiness will bring happiness back on yourself. I believe the opposite is also true, as we look for ways to tear down others and hurt others, we will ourselves be hurt because our attitude will be bitter and critical.

The other thing that stuck out to me also had to do with this same stepmother. In the epilogue of the book, 19-20 years later, Charlotte is attempting to reach out to the stepmother of the young boys by offering to take her along to the train station to meet her sons. Her husband, the boys' real father has passed on and while the boys do not come to see her, they do provide for her so she can remain in her house. She, however, is unwilling to apologize for the way she treated them when they were young. (Things had improved after Charlotte had prevailed upon the father to make a better life for his boys, but the stepmother never allowed herself to care for them.) "How utterly foolish, to be unable to ask forgiveness. To allow pride so much importance when it was the sorriest of companions in old age."

So so true, but how often do we allow our pride to stand in the way of good relationships because of our unwillingness to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness or ask for help or ask for anything.

I want to take these lessons with me and to reach out and love and to maintain a spirit of humility rather than pride.

This book was given me by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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