Where Hope Begins

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Where Hope Begins is not a book for the faint-hearted.  It is a  realistic tale of a family hit with one tragedy after another.  Once one gets to a certain age - death, marriage breakup, children in trouble and life-threatening illness surround us and often profoundly impact our own lives.  

One of my favorite quotes from the book is Clarice's statement:  "Sometimes God allows us to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness."  I commend Catherine West for not shying away from tackling these tough topics and writing about how God's grace envelopes us and enables us to keep going and be able to extend mercy and forgiveness to others amidst very challenging circumstances. 

An aspect of the novel I enjoyed was the nuggets of wisdom contained in quotes from famous authors at the beginning of the chapters.  The Barrington family's favorite book, Alice in Wonderland had lines from it peppered throughout the novel as well which added another layer of depth.

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley for this my honest review.
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Savannah Barrington’s life is falling apart. Again. When Kevin, her husband of twenty years, walks away to start a new life with his mistress, Savannah has no idea what she’ll do. Their oldest is away at college, and their youngest seems happy at his boarding school. The house looms empty. Delivering meals to the elderly and volunteering at the library won’t fill the void that threatens to suck her into oblivion.

When her mom offers the use of their summer place on the lake in the Berkshires, Savannah surprises herself and takes her up on the offer. Maybe away from home and all the memories Savannah will find healing for bruised emotions and a way through the pain.

She doesn’t hold out much hope though—after all, for the past ten years pain has haunted her every move. Savannah feels stronger than she did the summer she almost ended it all, but this new catastrophe has her wondering about her sanity. Especially when she mistakes the next-door-neighbor’s little girl for Shelby.

Maysie is only six, though, and her incredibly good-looking dad, Brock Chandler seems familiar in a strange way. And then when Brock’s great aunt Clarice invites Savannah to see her late husband’s greenhouse, Savannah fears she’s losing it again. For a few brief moments she sees, smells, and hears a glimpse of what the greenhouse used to be, back when Joe Chandler lived. 

In reality, the greenhouse looks like an unsalvageable wreck. Nevertheless, Savannah agrees to help Clarice clean it out and bring it back to life. Brock makes repairs to the outside of the building, and the ladies start cleaning out debris inside. 

After a few months of hard work in the greenhouse and soul searching, Savannah feels like she’s ready to accept Kevin’s decision and forge a new life. Maybe she’ll survive after all. Brock’s kiss gives her hope in her personhood. And then Kevin shows up for Christmas. 

Catherine West takes readers on a page-turning adventure into the human heart. Along the way she explores how grief can ransack our lives and leave us empty shells. While the point of her novel isn’t that those who experience tragedy need counseling, in the end, it is the point. Hurting humans need help navigating the treacherous roads leading away from loss. If they don’t receive the help they need, the repercussions could last for years (I know this from personal experience). 

Savannah’s best friend, Beth, models how Christians should come alongside each other in our hour of need. Savannah’s sister-in-law and another well-meaning church lady model how not to help.
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Wow! This book is a page-turner! The characters are well-written, making the reader feel the wide range of emotions from total devastation to miraculous happiness. Tough topics are dealt with truth through relationships, demonstrating how reactions to tragic circumstances impact all involved. From the ashes of pain, hope prevails, leaving a precious comfort that with the closing of one chapter in life, another begins anew, and sometimes second chances provide a deeper appreciation for the depths of family love.
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Where Hope Begins is a beautiful, albeit painful, story by author Catherine West. Savannah Barrington is lost. Her husband of 20 years is leaving her for the other woman. Her daughter is in college, her son at prep school, and she is totally at loose ends.

She finds solace and the beginnings of healing when she retreats to her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires. She also finds friendship in the elderly widowed neighbor, her nephew, and his young daughter.  Just when she is starting to feel better, her uninvited husband arrives right in time for Christmas dinner. With her parents, siblings and their families, her children, and neighbors all there for the holiday meal, Savannah is distraught. 

The mutual attraction between Savannah and her new neighbor, author Brock Chandler, is obvious. But the remorse seen in her husband, Kevin, is also apparent. Savannah’s children, Zoe and Adam, are distraught over their parents’ impending divorce.  In fact, the repercussions are far reaching in ways that could fully destroy or mend the family.

This well written book explores many sensitive topics including grief, betrayal, abandonment, suicide, and loss, but it also addresses love, commitment, family support, and forgiveness.  I very much enjoyed this book and I do recommend it!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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This is the best by Catherine West! It had my attention the entire length of the book. From the realistic and well developed characters to the emotional rawness throughout its entirety. I will recommend this book to everybody
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This was the second book I read by this author and I really liked it.

I have to admit at first I wasn't so sure. I thought the story was a moving a little too slowly for my taste and I didn't really connect with the characters. But I stuck with it and it was worth it.

I have to warn people though that this is a hard book. I don't usually get emotional reading books, but this one was very heartbreaking.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of the book!
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Savannah’s husband of twenty years is leaving her for the other woman. Now the house is empty—their three children are at boarding school, college, and in a grave. Broken, Savannah goes to stay in her parent’s holiday home, where she meets the neighbours: an old woman, her nephew, and his daughter. A daughter who is the spitting image of Savannah’s dead daughter.

Yes, Where Hope Begins has lots of angst. As the story progresses we find out more about how Shelby died, about how Savannah is convinced Shelby’s death was her fault, and convinced husband Kevin blames her, even though he says he doesn’t. We also see how this tragedy shaped their marriage, and paved the way for it’s destruction.

At the lake house, we see Savannah’s developing relationship with Brock, the bestselling author who is her new next-door neighbour. Her very attractive next-door neighbour. Why not? Her husband has left her for another woman and wants a divorce. That presents Savannah with a dilemma … and us as the reader. We’re convinced we don’t like Kevin, but does that justify Savannah’s growing relationship with Brock?

The intricacies of the relationships are compounded by Savannah’s Christian faith, a faith her husband supposedly shared. As Christians, we have clear views on adultery, but when is a marriage over? When is the wronged spouse allowed to move on?

Where Hope Begins is an intelligent, thought-provoking, and emotional read in a situation where there are lots of hard questions and no right answers.

The writing is excellent, as I’ve come to expect from Catherine West. The characters are well-developed, the plot complex but not convoluted, and the Christian elements threaded through but not overwhelming. Oh, and I cried. It’s been a long time since a novel made me cry.

Recommended for anyone looking for Christian fiction that addresses some of the hard issues of life. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
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A heart moving story that I couldn't put down. Catherine West not only weaves a tale that will capture your heart but she also moves your soul. I couldn't think of a better book to recommend to christian fiction fans.
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I  jumped at the chance to read this book early when I found out what it was about. I think infidelity in the Christian market is a topic that is shied away from, but yet it is needed so much!! Catherine West handled the topic with so much insight, raw honest emotion and grace, that this book was so hard to put down. The characters dealing with this topic were so relatable and likeable (okay and some that I really disliked at times), but yet everything was portrayed so well that I couldn't finish the book hating anyone. There are other serious subjects such as the death of a child, depression and suicide that are all touched on in this book. While all of those are heavy subjects, the characters personalities brought out light and fun moments to keep this book from getting too dark. I highly recommend this book for those who want to read about some more serious life issues and maybe looking for a place to start healing on their own relationship journeys.

"I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions in this review are my own."
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Surviving the loss of a child is said to be exceedingly difficult.  Savannah Barrington and her husband are still reeling from it, about 10 years later as this story begins.  She has struggled with mental illness as a result.  Their two surviving children, in their late teens, are scarred by it and carrying buried grief.  Her husband, Kevin, seeks comfort with another woman.  And, this is the last straw for Savannah.  Hurt deeply by the perceived betrayal, Savannah heads to the Berkshires to withdraw and get herself back together.

Hope, though, can be found in the tiniest crack.  In the unexpectedly places, and when we’re willing to accept some responsibility onto one’s self instead of heaping it all onto other people. God does not require much space to work wonders, but we need to be willing.
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After her daughter Shelby’s accidental death, Savannah Barrington was overwhelmed with guilt and sadness, and her suicide attempt was a cry for her husband Kevin to recognize her pain. Kevin’s response to the turmoil at home was to have an affair, and leave the marriage for the other woman. Lost and alone, Savannah retreated to her parents’ cabin, where her neighbor Clarice’s kindness and wisdom helped Savannah find a way out of her desperate unhappiness , and after prayer and reflection, offered a way for Savannah and Kevin to put their family back together.

The summary may sound depressing, but it isn’t meant to be. Shelby’s death, Savannah’s suicide attempt, the impending divorce, the pain that these situations cause for Zoe and Adam (Savannah and Kevin’s other children)…at the core of this story is a very strong Christian faith that is shared by all the characters. I loved Savannah’s strength and her willingness to help others in need, and appreciated that she was able to find peace.
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A difficult story about adultery, death, suicide and terminal illness, all heartbreaking things.... But I admired the perseverance of the characters, and their determination not to give up. The novel was full of realistic scenes and characters. I appreciated the author's note in which she explains why she wrote this book and includes a prayer for those going through similar problems.
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Savannah and Kevin face the worst situation any parents can imagine; one of their children was killed in an accident and neither can forgive themselves for it. This lack of communication and understanding over many years, leads to the family falling apart, with Kevin leaving Savannah and their other two kids falling into some destructive behaviors. 

As Savannah struggles to reclaim her life, she retreats to her childhood home. While there, she meets a family who is living through their own nightmare as well. Though this sounds morbid, the book is anything but. Instead, the characters are realistic and  down to earth, with a little whimsy and hope brought in to keep the story moving.

I read reviews that indicated I would need tissues, and they were right. As a parent, I can’t imagine losing a child or going on. Add a spouse’s infidelity to the mix, and I’d be a pile of mush. Savannah’s faith helps her reclaim her life, and though the religious references were more than I prefer, they fit the characters well. Ultimately, this book is about forgiveness and moving forward, which are lessons anyone can identify with, regardless of their own religion.
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Where Hope Begins is a beauty-from-ashes story full of authenticity and emotion. With relatable characters, gorgeous prose, and a depth many stories lack, it captured me from the first page.
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WOW!  Just Wow!  Where Hope Begins is an absolutely wonderful book and I enjoyed every page.

Savannah Barrington finds herself reeling when her husband of twenty-one years reveals he's leaving her. After discovering his infidelity, she decides she needs a change and heads to her family's lake house to begin healing.  Little does she realize that healing comes in all different forms.  In order for her to truly begin that process she must face her past, forgive, and let go.  Savannah befriends Clarice, the elderly lady next door, her nephew Brock, and his daughter, Maysie, and thus a beautiful friendship is formed.  Savannah begins to find hope for her future through her relationship with these three wonderful people and will need to pass that hope on to those she loves around her.

Where Hope Begins delves into a myriad of difficult issues; including depression, adultery, suicide, loss of a child, terminal illness, and divorce.  Each subject was written about with such grace and effectiveness you'd think Catherine West had personally dealt with each one.  It is so well written that it'll bring you to tears and have you chuckling...and you just may swoon a bit too!  Oh My!  I highly recommend reading this beautiful novel, it's my first by Ms. West and will definitely not be my last!  

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Not my type of book. It wasn't bad, it is just not somethingI will purchase or recommend really. I found the whole story just a bit  too much.
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I have loved every book that I’ve ever read by this author, but I can safely say that Where Hope Begins is her best one so far! This is a story of the spiraling effect of sin, of the spiraling effect of forgiveness, and of the kind of hope that hangs in there when everything else is falling apart. Yet, while the ugly-cry quotient is certainly high, so are the moments where you can’t help smiling or even chuckling or swooning (because Brock is YUM.) The characters are authentic and at times raw – much like the story – and in each of them you might see a little of yourself. West courageously strips away the pretense that could easily infiltrate this kind of story, and she leaves us instead with a smart, honest, and incredibly touching story of restoration in the midst of the most shattered brokenness and hope in the midst of the darkest night. A must read!

Full review on blog.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
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Where Hope Begins definitely starts with a bang that takes the reader on an emotional journey. Savannah is blindsided when her husband leaves her for another woman. The reader is then allowed to peel back the layers of Savannah and Kevin's troubled marriage, journeying with them to happier times and then to the tragedy which unravels their happy home.

It is a wonderful story of hope that shows how brokenness does not have to triumph when life gives us more than we think we can handle. Savannah finds that in 'running away' to her parents’ lake house located in the Berkshires that hope blooms and life takes on a different view. 

Watching Savannah and her husband go through the darkest period in their life, fighting for their marriage, and seeing the damage done to their family was heart-wrenching and brought tears to my eyes several times. The difficult themes of infidelity, mental health, and broken relationships were handled well by Ms. West with a satisfactory ending.
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I thought it was a really enjoyable book - the story was well crafted and the description of a marriage breakdown felt believable. For me on a purely personal note the very heavy God references were unnecessary and too much of a distraction. I enjoyed the story, and the book - but I wouldnt choose another novel by this author as I'm not sure we were a good match.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.  How do you move on after the death of a child? 

How do you move on after your husband's adultery?   As Savannah determines if it is even possible to move forward, the past forces her to face the present.  An emotional book full of past mistakes, present pain and finally, hope for the future.
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