Friday, March 29, 2013

UCF Book Festival Feature: Sunrise on the Battery - Beth Webb Hart

Over the years at various book events, I have come to know all of the Southern Belles, a group of ladies who are Christian authors of Southern fiction.  (They post daily on their blog here.)  They are wonderful women, and a source of inspiration for everyone who comes in contact with them!  Beth Webb Hart is a part of this group, and I was starting to feel left out that I hadn't read any of her books.  When I found out she would be attending the UCF Book Festival, I grabbed this opportunity to read one of her books that I'd had on the shelves for awhile.  

Synopsis:  Mary Lynn hasn't always lived such a charmed life.  She grew up poor, with her single mother, in a small Southern town, and was the pariah of the community because her mama never married her daddy.  She was not welcome in some churches, and was not allowed to be a part of the debutante coming out parties.  Then she met and married an equally poor but determined young man named Jackson, who took a small inheritance, and with the help of a local real estate baron, invested wisely and became wealthy beyond both of their dreams.

Now they live South of Broad in Charleston, and are part of the breed of new money in town.  Their three girls all play instruments, are skilled at multiple languages, and are destined for the best colleges in the country.  Mary Lynn knows that she is just an engraved invitation away from being folded into the most coveted societies in their social circle.  

But just one thing bothers Mary Lynn.  Jackson has always turned away from God, primarily because he lost his mother at an early age.  Her one wish to make her life perfect is that he would learn to accept Him back into his life.  She prays for this.

But sometimes you have to be careful what you pray for.  It just might come true, in spades.

My thoughts:  I know many of you out there are adverse to Christian fiction, primarily because it can sometimes come across as preachy.  But the one thing I can tell you that is while all the Southern Belle books have God in their themes and plots, it is more of an organic thing, and not in the least bit preachy.  

I was really entertained by this story.  I'll admit, I was pretty annoyed with Jackson throughout the book.  First he was the task-master, driving his family nuts with his determination to make everyone perfect.  His oldest daughter was on the verge of making some bad choices under the amount of stress he was applying.  You can't do that to kids!  But then, a man of extremes, Jackson then embraces Jesus and completely goes off the deep end.  Which was crazy as well.  I just wanted to shake him.

I also recognized that whether you are religious or not, this tale applies to everyone.  It is very easy to get wrapped up in image, in unrealistic goals, in having more STUFF.  Everything requires a balance.  If you can't find that balance...if you are driven by material possessions or oppositely, you live by the seat of your pants...there will be repercussions.  This was definitely a cautionary tale for the modern family, with lots to discuss.  

I very much look forward to reading more from Beth!

4 out of 5 stars


rhapsodyinbooks said...

It's hard to read books when you want to shake the characters!

bermudaonion said...

I actually kind of like characters I want to shake - they feel real to me. lol I don't mind Christian fiction when it's no preachy. I need to check this out.

Darlene said...

Well I'm a fan of Christian fiction so I'll most definitely have to check these ladies out. This book sounds really good and has such a pretty cover.

Zibilee said...

I haven't read any of Beth's books either, and I also feel kind of bad about that. I need to dig this one out and give it a go before the festival. The book sounds rather realistic and like something that I would like a lot. I am curious about this change that comes over Jackson. It sounds like it's very striking, and that it causes some problems for his family!

Kathleen said...

I have to admit that the idea of Christian fiction turns me off. I always have considered it "less than" fiction. I know this is wrong on my part and your review and my two sisters who read this fiction all the time have convinced me that I should be willing to give it a try.

Beth F said...

Humm. I can handle Christian (or any other religion) fiction if it's not preachy. But I wouldn't be bothered by Jackson's lack of belief, so I'm not sure I'd connect to Mary Lynn.

Julie P. said...

This one sounds like a winner. I enjoy quality Christian fiction!

Anonymous said...

Probably my least favorite Beth Webb Hart. But I read all her books. I won't be back from SC in time for UCF book fest so relying on you!