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It Happens Every Spring
by Catherine Palmer & Gary Chapman

Reviewed by Sheryl Root

"...Palmer creates a wonderfully picturesque setting with such a diverse array of amusing and poignant characters."

Those of us who love fiction will be the first to tell you that while a story should never preach, it is an excellent way to impart practical truths. So I was intrigued when I realized It Happens Every Spring, written by veteran novelist Catherine Palmer, is the first in a series of four novels based on the concepts in best selling author Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Four Seasons of Marriage.

A large cast of colorful characters set in the small, lakeside community of Deepwater Cove makes this a charming read, reminiscent in many ways of Jan Karon’s Mitford series.

There’s Charlie Moore, recently retired from his job as a postman, whose main occupation now is cruising around town in Deepwater Cove’s favorite means of transportation—a golf cart—making sure everyone is cared for. Charlie’s wife, Esther, is the nosy but lovable grandmother of the town. Esther knows everything that goes on and is quick to give her opinion, whether or not she’s asked.

Patsy Pringle, single and forty-something, is the spunky proprietor of the Just As I Am beauty salon and tearoom. Patsy wants her shop to be a haven of peace and pampering, but her new neighbor seems bent on getting a rise out of her. Ever since Pete Roberts opened his Rods-n-Ends bait and tackle shop next door, Patsy’s walls have been shaking from the engines Pete repairs. She even had a whole shelf of teacups come crashing down. Her friends tell her Pete has a crush on her, but all Patsy knows is that she wants him gone.

Patsy’s regular customers include Kim Finley, recently remarried after her first husband abandoned her and her two sons; and Ashley Hanes, a newlywed free spirit who is trying to conform to her husband’s strong views.

Another one of Patsy’s customers is Brenda Hansen; and it is she and her husband, Steve, whose marriage is the center of this book. With the last of their three children off to college, Brenda doesn’t know what to do with herself. She had all these wonderful plans of things she and Steve could do together—just the two of them—once the children were gone. But Steve is too busy with his real estate company to pay much attention to her, and Brenda finds herself struggling to keep her love for Steve, and her commitment to her marriage, alive.

A new, and not always welcome, face in town is Cody, a childlike homeless man who first shows up on Brenda’s doorstep looking for chocolate cake. Why cake? Cody’s dad told him any one can give you food, but only a Christian will give you chocolate cake too. Cody—who sees the reflection of a man with a straggly beard in Brenda’s patio door and thinks Jesus lives there—has little idea what a truly Christ like influence he will be to the residents of Deepwater Cove.

I was glad for the full cast of lovable and eccentric characters in It Happens Every Spring because—in all honesty—for the first few chapters I had a very hard time feeling much compassion for either Brenda or Steve. It’s not that I didn’t understand their individual viewpoints. It’s just that they were both so single mindedly self-centered I wanted to shake them! However, Catherine Palmer creates such a wonderfully picturesque setting with such a diverse array of amusing and poignant characters that I found myself becoming very attached to the community of Deepwater Cove.

The second book in the Four Seasons series, Summer Breeze, will be available in summer 2007. I look forward to catching up with my friends in Deepwater Cove again then.

Sheryl RootSheryl Root is Partner Database Manager at OneHope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reach every child with God’s Word. She’s also a writer and a reader of everything she can get her hands on … books, blogs, magazines. In other words, she’s both a data geek and a book nerd. She loves to be able to support Christian authors and spread the word on great books and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a wonderful community of published and yet to be published writers. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sheryl_Root.