9 March 2015

Review: Heartsong by Nicola Furlong


Some families have hope. Others have faith. The Shepherds of rural Oregon have Faith, Hope and Charly, three quirky sisters whose lives change forever when they reluctantly answer a personal calling to help other make amends.

Thirty-something single parent Charly Shepherd is satisfied with her life raising two children and thousands of plants in her family owned Sweet Shepherd Nursery. Then tragedy strikes. As she and her siblings struggle to keep the nursery going, Charly begins to believe her family’s destiny is greater than raising flowers. When the three sisters reluctantly delve into family secrets to help their ailing father fulfill a promise, their lives change forever as they pursue a new inspirational path of discovery, heartache, humor and redemption.

Heartsong is the first novel in the proposed Sisterhood of Shepherds series. The characters are interesting and the writing is solid, but I found the story didn’t really deliver on the promise. It seemed to take a long time to get into the story, to the point where the plot wasn’t actually clear. It wasn’t about the Shepherd family recovering from the hailstorm after their insurance cover accidentally lapsed. It wasn’t about the mysterious vandalism occurring around the Sweet Shepherd Nursery.

It eventually got around to the idea that the Shepherd girls had some kind of spiritual destiny to help others, but this seemed like a minor subplot rather than the whole point. Their first “project” was to help their father make right a wrong committed many years ago. However, even this was underwhelming, as the leadup to the big reveal made it sound as though Barry had done something awful (had an affair and a child out of wedlock at the very least), but the actual secret was something much more low-key, and I felt his level of guilt was misplaced.

I did like the relevant quotes at the beginning of each chapter, especially this one from Cicero:
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Overall, Heartsong was a nice story, but it wasn’t a compelling plot, had a weak ending (which hinged on one coincidences too many—really, how many widowed-and-remarried retirees still send Valentine’s cards to the guy they didn’t marry over forty years ago?), and it didn’t deliver on what was promised in the blurb.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

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