A Classic Romance
When most people think of “classic romance”, they perhaps think of Pride & Prejudice, or Jane Eyre, or Georgette Heyer, or Dame Barbara Cartland (who I’ve never read!). But I thought of Janette Oke, because her Christian romance novels have become modern classics and broke new ground in the Christian fiction market.
The other reason I like Janette Oke, especially her Love Comes Softly series, is that she acknowledges romance isn’t just the hot-and-heavy falling in love. Clark and Marty, the lead couple in this first book, form a marriage of convenience after the unexpected death of Marty’s husband leaves her alone in the West, with nothing but a broken wagon and a few personal possessions. Clark is a widow with a toddler, and needs someone to care for Missie while he works his farm.
Over the course of thirteen books we see Clark and Marty marry, fall in love, raise children, watch their children fall in love and marry and have children … They also face bad times and tragedy, and I think that’s the real strength of Love Comes Softly: it shows that love is more than romance.
Love Comes Softly was first published in 1979, and this was noticeable in the way writing and publishing standards have changed (for example, Marty both thinks and speaks in double quote marks, which I found confusing at first as I was raised with ‘one quote mark for thought and two for speech’).
But the characters and the story have held up over the years, and Clark and Marty are still as lovable as they were the first time I read this … which must be over twenty years ago. And it’s been reread many times, especially before Kindle made new books so affordable. I own the whole series, and they have a deserved place on my keeper shelf.
This book counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a classic romance.