Where Hope Begins

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

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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Where Hope Begins is written by Cathy West. This is the first book that I have read by Cathy West and it surely won’t be my last. This story was so powerful that it had me riveted to my seat the entire time. The love, anger, devotion, heartache, pain were so real to me. An excellent read. I highly recommend that you get your copy of Where Hope Begins today.
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Favorite Quotes:

This miserable moment… it feels freeze-framed. Forever cemented in memory—this one defining moment in my life when I realize all I’ve done, everything I’ve poured myself into, has been for naught.

I don’t want to hate Kevin. And I don’t, always. Just most of the time.

We’ve been in and out of counseling for the past ten years. Christian counseling. Psychiatric counseling. Family and couples counseling. I can quote books verbatim on how to put a family back together after loss, how to grieve, how to pray for your husband. I must have missed the one on how to keep him at home.

Brock Chandler is all straight white teeth and sparkling eyes and smiles like a movie star. And his voice sounds like Matthew McConaughey’s. Suddenly I can’t find mine.

He knew that kind of pain. That searing forest-fire heat that eventually fizzles to dormant embers but remains a threat, a slow burn, never fully extinguished and easily flammable.

Her idea of gardening is buying a flower arrangement from Whole Foods, putting it on the table, and waiting for it to die.

…we walk toward the house in step. It’s a practiced rhythm we’ve forgotten somehow, but it has not forgotten us.

My Review:

I was astounded by the level of deft handling, observant insight, and thoughtful sensitivity given to an abundant amount of heavy personal issues and unfortunate circumstances.  While my eyes may occasionally burn and sting, I am rarely moved to actual tears while reading, although this emotive and heartbreaking story had me sobbing, and more than once.  I was often annoyed with the characters’ selfish tendencies for denial, indecision, and procrastination, but most of us walking this earth are guilty of those same foibles at various times in our lives.  The premise and storylines were relevant, well-crafted, painfully heart-squeezing, and surprisingly engaging.  I’ve never read Ms. West’s work before and despite my discomfort and tendency to eschew religious themes, I was quickly immersed and fully invested in her superbly written tale, although I was conflicted in whom to root for.  Her writing style was smooth, easy to follow, and kept me reading far later than I expected.  I fully enjoyed and appreciated her wry humor, which was often stealthily dropped in unexpected places.  The characters were realistically flawed and as fleshed out and knowable as my next-door neighbor, maybe even more so.  I was definitely a Brock fan all the way through and far from joining team Kevin until he tore off a piece of the self-righteous preacher’s wife, and from then on I had to take him seriously, I just had to, as he sorta became my hero.  The ending was highly satisfying and although extremely sad, it was also the best possible outcome.
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I was hooked from the first line, “My husband is leaving me.”

Divorce is not an easy topic to discuss. It’s a death of main character Savannah’s dream that affects all family members and those she’s in relationship with. I liked her transparency, vulnerability and her struggle to do the right thing. Her question was,” What is the right thing?”

Catherine explores this topic with a keen sensitivity to the pain of living with anger, regrets, poor choices, and broken relationships; including the one they all had with God. I was blown away by this gifted storyteller who allowed readers to walk in the shoes of these complex characters dealing with an almost impossible situation. All the while showing how each member comes to the end of themselves and gives up control of their lives. As they surrender readers see how this author masterfully weaves in little nuggets of pure and lovely hope of new beginnings seen amongst the scattered broken pieces of life. 

Catherine writes brilliantly witty, heartfelt dialogue, that held me hostage as I walked with this family through their pain, anguish and struggles with faith, hope and the inability to love anyone including themselves; while their world is turned upside down yet again. The family has become numb. So many questions. Is there really a God? How can they go on when they haven’t recovered from the last tragedy?

These characters search deep into their souls to find answers to these questions and those they are too afraid to ask. I loved that this story is not preachy. It vividly shows the power of grace, love and the possibility of being set free from pain and suffering . Readers see that by giving up the anger and pain we were never meant to carry all things become possible.

I loved how the author kept the reader guessing as to how this story would end. There were so many possibilities. I enjoyed the surprises, twists and turns I didn’t see coming. Woven into the story line where fun moments in book stores, libraries, a mystery to uncover, there are unexpected family secrets revealed, giggles moments and a clean romance intertwined with family life and an adorable young soul named Mazie, that makes you smile when she talks about her guardian angel. 

The author includes discussion questions for your book club. This is a beautiful story that will linger in your heart long after you close the book. I highly recommend this for your next book club pick and/or just a great memorable read!
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What a heart rendering story! This story is probably every woman's worst nightmare. Loss of a child, infidelity, suicide (more than once within same family). How much can a person take?
Savannah is a wife and mother to two children. One is college and a sixteen year old away at a private school. While she knew her marriage was no longer what it once was, she was shocked and heartbroken when her husband finally admitted to having another woman--younger, of course, that he cared more for than he does his wife. He has moved out of the family home to be with his mistress. Their children are also heartbroken and angry with their father. I have admiration for Savannah for not succumbing to what many women finding themselves in this position do, bad mouth their children's father to them and stir up hatred in their hearts. She realizes her children need their father in their lives and wants them to have a good relationship with him.
Savannah escapes the empty, quiet and painful house to spend some time in Birkshires, her parents vacation home. There, she meets the elderly neighbor woman, Clarice, who has so much wisdom to offer. Her nephew Brock, a well-known author, and his young daughter, Maysie, are staying with her.
Will Savannah ever be able to truly forgive her husband as she knows she is commanded to by God's Word? Forgiveness helps bring healing.
So many tough topics for an author to tackle,and Catherine West did it very very well.
My only disappointment in the story was the very small smattering of Christianity. I was expecting more. Even so, a wonderful story!
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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