October 30, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Things We Knew, a novel by Catherine West {Book Review}

Being a member of the Fiction Guild for Thomas Nelson publishers is a good thing, but can also be challenging. Why? Well I never know what I am going to receive, except that it will be within my favorite genres--romance, historical fiction, or young adult fiction. Surprise new books are good, right? Well, not always--like when they send a book that is out of my box, and one I wouldn't necessarily pick to read intentionally. This occurred when I received The Things We Knew, a novel by Catherine West. Not only was I not familiar with the author, but it was a contemporary setting (not my favorite) and the synopsis wasn't exactly begging me to read it. But, I was willing to give it a try and hope for the best.


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About The Things We Knew, a novel

The Things We Knew by Catherine West is a contemporary novel set in Nantucket. The lead character is Lynette Carlisle, the youngest of five children, who has taken on the responsibility and upkeep for her family home and ailing father. Left behind by her siblings, she feels like their close knit family has unraveled. Most of it is related to the circumstances surrounding their mother’s tragic death twelve years prior, but while they all seem to blame their father, no one will talk about the day—and Lynette’s memory of it only comes through nightmares.  Their father’s failing health and financial concerns finally bring the family back together, and when their old neighbor and family friend Nicholas Cooper (who knows more about Lynette’s mother’s death than he lets on) returns as well, secrets surface that might restore their relationships, or drive them apart forever.

My Thoughts on the Book

First off, as many of you know by now, contemporary setting books really aren’t my style. Not only that, but even the plot wasn’t something that really dragged me in. So I reluctantly began the book. Thanks to a brilliant author, my reluctance turned to “can’t put this down”, as I eagerly turned pages to learn more about the story. The author brilliantly weaves the past into the present as pieces relating to the siblings’ mother’s death are put together. There are so many honest and raw issues dealt with in this book that far too many in this world are dealing with. Addiction recoveries. Spousal abuse. Aging/ailing parent. Adultery. Divorce. I really appreciated how the author approached them and wove the importance of being willing to forgive, to trust in God to fight your battles, and to step out in faith in the story. I also liked how the author gave a convincing portrayal of her characters questioning their faith. It gave them a sense of relatability. 

Unlike many “romances” in fiction, this one had characters facing obstacles that were real and I know that many readers would identify with. Having to deal with childhood baggage and family issues. Having to make real sacrifices and taking hard look at priorities. 

I also loved how the story wasn’t “finished” until the very very end. Even when it seemed like you had it all figured out, there was still more to layer on to make it complete. I admit, I would like to see these characters again if it were possible, which says a lot about the book. I am definitely going to be reading more books by Catherine West, even when they are out of my "historical fiction box". LOL.
by Catherine West
Available in Kindle and Paperback

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