6 August 2012

Review: Angel of the Cove by Sandra Robbins

Anna Prentice has her life planned out, and is sure that those are God's plans too. She has always wanted to be a nurse, and has been accepted into nursing school in Bellevue, New York. Her brother, Robert, sees this as a potential drain on the family's resources and is reluctant to let her go even though their father had approved. But he has died, and Robert is now head of the family and gets to make those decisions.

Fortunately for Anna, Uncle Charles comes to her rescue with an opportunity to spend the summer working with Granny Lawson, the midwife in the remote Smoky Mountains settlement of Cades Cove. Robert has agreed that Anna can attend school if Mrs Lawson gives her a good report.

At Cades Cove, she meets Brother Simon Martin, a young man who grew up in the Cove and who is now the community minister, despite his own early dreams of being a pastor in a large city church and leading hundreds of people to Jesus. Simon is challenged by the instant attraction he feels towards Anna, and the attraction is mutual. But Anna and Simon will have to reconcile her desire to move to New York for nursing school with his place preaching in the Cove.

The beginning of Angel of the Cove is reminiscent of the plot of Christy, Catherine Marshall's famous novel that lends its name to the Christy awards for Christian fiction. It has the young woman going alone to work with the people of the Great Smoky Mountains, the older mentor and the handsome young minister, although it is missing the enigmatic doctor (in this case, the doctor is Anna's uncle, and there is no ‘other man’ to choose between).

Anna is a bit too good to be true. There is a suggestion at the beginning of the book that she is too concerned with her own plans, but apart from that, she is perfect. The children love her, and even the ones with a reputation for mischief like and obey her. If only it were that easy!

We never get told exactly how old Anna is, although I would guess late teens based on the fact that she is soon going to nursing school. Nor do we get told how old Simon is (beyond the fact that he has completed three years of college), nor do we ever find out exactly when the story is set (my guess is mid-1870’s, but it could be anywhere from 1873 to 1910). While these details are not vital, they do help the reader to understand the background to the story.

We might not know Anna’s physical age, but we get plenty of examples of her immaturity. Simon isn't much better. Although it is obvious that he has fallen for Anna, I never really understood why, beyond the immediate attraction of her pretty face and nice clothes. I would have hoped that the hero in a Christian novel was not so shallow, especially when he is a preacher.

Overall, Angel of the Cove wasn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t that good. The opening didn’t capture my interest, I didn’t find the primary characters engaging, it took a long time to get going, the courtship was too fast and the ending was predictable, rushed and not quite believable.

Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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