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Cottage by the Sea

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Cottage by the Sea by Robin Jones Gunn

Reviewed by Sarah Varland

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"This book was written from somewhere deep in the heart of Robin Jones Gunn; and it comes across in every heart-wrenching, hope-giving word of the book."

There are books that seem to be so well written, exquisitely crafted, and genuinely heart touching that they are nearly impossible to review. Any words I have for Robin Jones Gunn’s Cottage by the Sea will fall short of explaining what a powerful story it is. But as a writer and a lover of books, I can’t help but try.

The main character, Erin Bryce, is one faithful readers of Robin Jones Gunn will recognize as the mother-in-law of Sierra Jensen. Erin’s children are grown and as she steps into this new season of her life, she’s on the cusp of seeing some new dreams realized, like opening a wedding planning business with her friend Sharlene. Life is changing for Erin, but they’re good changes, and the book opens with the energy of a new-day, a fresh start, and a dream that is finally coming true. This continues through the entire first chapter, making the reader almost giddy along with the characters for the excitement they’re experiencing, until the news that’s delivered to Erin at the end of the first chapter. Her father has had a stroke.

Erin’s life spirals out of control as she makes plans to go be with her father. Eventually his health makes her feel as though she should take time off from her business and live with him indefinitely. But Erin’s business partner is overwhelmed by the thought of losing her and Erin herself is overwhelmed by the thought of being forced to live in close quarters with her step-mother Delores, whom she’s never gotten along with.

This book was written from somewhere deep in the heart of Robin Jones Gunn; and it comes across in every heart-wrenching, hope-giving word of the book. While her experiences do not perfectly mirror Erin’s, the author explains that she’s experienced similar situations, and it shows in the authenticity of the story. Anyone who has experienced grief or loss will find that this book puts into words the fragile emotions of that time and perfectly captures the beauty of family love that transcends health problems and trials. I found myself crying both sad and happy tears and can honestly say I can think of no other fiction book that has touched me so deeply any time recently than Robin Jones Gunn’s Cottage by the Sea.

Sarah VarlandSarah Varland lives in Georgia with her husband, son, and two dogs. When she's not busy teaching high school English or walking around with her nose stuck in a book, she enjoys spending time with her family outdoors doing things like hiking and kayaking. Sarah is currently pursuing publication as a novelist and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can read some of her thoughts on life, books, and the ministry fishbowl at her blog.