Tuesday, September 30, 2014
'Home to Chicory Lane' by Deborah Raney
Audrey Whitman s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband, Grant, are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri. Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she s pulling makes it clear she s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn s husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?"
This is an entertaining story about the subtleties of extended family relationships. Audrey and Grant have recently seen their fifth and last child, Landyn, married. Now they are focusing on Audrey's deferred dream of turning their lovely old home into a guest house. On opening day, Landyn turns up towing a whole lot of furniture. She's left her husband, Chase, after six months, because he made a spur-of-the-moment decision about where they were to live without waiting to ask her input. And Landyn has never taken kindly to being told what to do.
The story turns into a comedy of errors at times, as they all try to work things out. There are four main characters; the father, the mother, the daughter and the son-in-law. What I like about this book is the realism, showing that nobody's life will ever look picture perfect. Even when you're living your best dream, there will always be a certain amount of messiness, mundane and less than ideal situations to contend with, so we might as well get used to it. Marriage, raising families and working weren't designed to be a piece of cake, and we get along best when we don't expect them to be.
The characters match the plot with their mixtures of great and annoying personality traits. Audrey may place making a good impression on strangers above being a caring parent and easy-going grandparent at times, but she still gives her daughter the wise advice that when you allow your spouse to pursue their dreams, you must do it with no strings attached. Grant has some prejudices and fixed ideas about how the younger generation should behave, but to his credit, he bites his tongue and lets Chase and Landyn make their own decisions. Landyn has a headstrong and secretive streak, making trouble for herself by asking her parents to keep things from her husband and vice versa, but she genuinely loves the significant people in her life.
It was harder to come up with Chase's bad points, as he was my favourite character. If anything, it would have to be insecurity and lack of confidence. I love the way he reasons that God made him an artist, and it's not his fault if society makes it almost impossible to make a living as one. Like many of us, a lot of Chase's anxiety comes from financial burdens, reminding me of the saying, 'The best things in life are free, but the second best things are very expensive.'
I appreciated his depressed musing that he wasn't hearing from God while he made an important decision, even though he was certain he was. The answer given to him (and us) to ponder comes from a minor character, Grandma Cece, who reasons that God's ways rarely make sense to us while they're happening, but we may see their significance some time down the track.
Although this book was a quick and easy read on the surface, the undercurrents kept me thinking for a while.
Thanks to Net Galley and Abingdon Press for my review copy.