Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Review: A Girl to Come Home to by Grace Livingston Hill

There is a reason that we still read Grace Livingston Hill's books over 60 years after her death.  Not only are we still reading them, but they are being reprinted for today's audience.  Her writing skills were superb and her stories were straight-forward and simple, while remaining entertaining, and, in the case of A Girl to Come Home To, intriguing.
A Girl to Come Home To is the story of two brothers returning home from the war.  I am not sure which war the book refers to, but I assume it's World War I, or, as it was referred to at the time, "The Great War."  Rodney and Jeremy Graeme have each suffered overseas.  Rodney was injured in a battle, and Jeremy was held prisoner for a short period of time.  They have come home to their small town to rest and recuperate before being sent on their next assignment.  Rodney is suffering from more than a war wound, however.  While he was overseas he received a letter from his fiancé, which contained her engagement ring and a quick apology, along with the news that she was marrying someone else.  At first, Rodney was heartbroken, then he was angry, but he has now come to realize that Jessica was not the girl for him.  However, Jessica hasn't moved on, and when Rodney returns to town, she goes after him with a vengeance.  When Rodney begins to fall for Diana Winters, Jessica realizes she must do something to stop him, and return his affections to her.  But Jessica has more on her mind than winning back her beau, and the real reason for her interest may bring more trouble than anyone bargained for.
This book is not your average love story.  When Ms. Livingston Hill lived and wrote, times were different.  It's difficult to realize just how different, until you see this picture of life in the early 1900s.  While I did find some of the characters, dialogue and situations to be a little trite, I was enthralled with every part.  For instance, I felt a few times like I might puke if I read another reference to "dear, sweet, beautiful, kind, gracious, wonderful, swell Mother."  She was a champ above all, perfectly sweet and charming in all of her ways.  While I found the dialogue between her and Cousin Louella Chatterton to be amusing, I felt that the mother character was awfully dumb and naïve.  But she fulfilled all of the adjectives used to describe her--multiple times. 
I suppose the most difficult part of the book to swallow was the nature of the characters.  The good characters were all very good, and the bad ones were all very bad.  Oh, how excited I would have been to hear loving Mother get angry and say she was angry, just like a real mother would if she needed to.  I longed to have someone put Jessica in her place, but, alas, Rodney was too much of a gentleman, and Jerry wouldn't overstep his bounds!  Although annoying in their perfection, I do believe that the Graeme family and their friends are examples of how Christians should live their lives, and the attitudes that we should have.  The girls behaved like ladies, and the boys behaved like true gentlemen.  These are ways that are mostly foreign to today's generation, even professing Christians.
The greatest attribute of Ms. Livingston Hill's story, is the presentation of the Gospel, not once, but several times throughout the book.  I have never read a novel that told the plan of salvation so clearly.  Her characters saw themselves as sinners, even the good people, and asked the Lord to save them.  I believe that is the reason this author is still famous.  She used her talent as a writer as a platform to share the Gospel message with thousands of readers through the years.  Now, with these newly published editions, I hope she will have the opportunity to reach a whole new generation with her message.
I absolutely recommend A Girl to Come Home To to anyone.  I think you will enjoy the twists and turns of the story, but you may also learn a little about the Savior, too.  I think that's what Grace Livingston Hill would have wanted.
Happy Reading!
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own

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