About this book: (from the publisher) The pastoral charm of small-town Watervalley, Tennessee, can be deceptive, as young Dr. Luke Bradford discovers when he’s caught in the fallout of a decades-old conflict…
After a rocky start as Watervalley’s only doctor, Luke Bradford has decided to stay in town, honoring the three-year commitment he made to pay off his medical school debts. But even as his friendships with the quirky townsfolk deepen, and he pursues a romance with lovely schoolteacher Christine Chambers, several military veterans’ emotional wounds trigger anger and unrest in Watervalley.
At the center of the clash is the curmudgeonly publisher of the local newspaper, Luther Whitmore. Luther grew up in Watervalley, but he returned from combat in Vietnam a changed man. He fenced in beautiful Moon Lake, posting “Keep Out” notices at the beloved spot, and provokes the townspeople with his incendiary newspaper.
As Luke struggles to understand Luther’s past, and restore harmony in Watervalley, an unforeseen crisis shatters a relationship he values dearly. Suddenly Luke must answer life’s toughest questions about service, courage, love, and sacrifice.
About the author: After growing up on a farm in rural Tennessee, Jeff High attained degrees in literature and nursing. He is the three-time winner in fiction and poetry of an annual writing contest held by Vanderbilt Medical Center. He lived in Nashville for many years and throughout the country as a travel nurse before returning to his original hometown, near where he now works as an operating room RN in open-heart surgery. He is the author of the Watervalley novels, including More Things in Heaven and Earth and Each Shining Hour.
Content rating: PG
Reminds me of: Jan Karon’s Mitford series and Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country series
First impressions: What it is about a watercolor cover that I love? Not sure, but it seems I can seldom resist the allure. I’m drawn to the soft, nostalgic hues that promises a warm, heartfelt story.
This story matters to me because… it celebrates the beauty of second chances.
My take: Not often but occasionally I enjoy a softer, sweeter sort of story–the variety that takes you on a leisurely stroll through the gentlemanly adventuring of a kind soul purposing to make the world a better place. If you haven’t already met, allow me to introduce one such: Dr. Luke Bradford, who is to Jeff High’s Watervalley what Father Tim is to Jan Karon’s Mitford. Like Mitford, Watervalley is small-town, pastoral America, with all its peculiar vices and joys. In The Splendor of Ordinary Days, the town’s citizens also rub elbows with a nearby Mennonite community–which, for many readers, offers its own attraction. In this story, traditional, homeland values abound, including the honoring of our military vets.
Not being familiar with Jeff High’s writing before, I was struck by the sense that he must take particular pleasure in writing playful dialogue, especially that between Luke Bradford and Christine Chambers, and to developing the blossoming relationship between these two. But for me, the real appeal was this story’s takeaway: to never give up on anyone. To remember that no matter the crusty exterior, everyone has their soft spots, and no one is beyond redemption.
Thanks to Litfuse Publicity and New American Library for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: Were you a fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series? I read a few back in the day. What about Patrick Taylor? I currently have one of his from the Irish Country series awaiting me on my TBR shelf.