Guideposts, $13.99, ISBN 978-0-8249-3246-6
Contemporary Fiction, 2013
Evangeline Kelley is the pseudonym for the “writing team” of Patti Berg (who had been MIA for quite a while), Pam Andrews and Barbara Hanson (apparently they write as a team inside this team), and Camy Tang. I have no idea whether the authors tackle a book each or write each one together, but I can tell you that Seaside Harmony is the first of three books in the Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn series. Oh, and this is a Christian story, so naturally it takes place in a rustic island, as we all know that Christians only live in bucolic, island, or seaside landscapes.
Oh, and I have better let you guys know as well – the story continues throughout the series, so you would need to get all three books if you want to know the whole tale. There is no indication of this anywhere on the front or back cover, and there isn’t even any indication that there are other books in this series anywhere in this book. Maybe all that information is pasted on church boards all over the place and, therefore, a heathen like me is out of the loop.
Basically, we have three sisters: Caroline Marris, Gracie Gold, and Sam Carter. They are in their fifties and they haven’t been together much lately, until their mother’s passing shortly before this story begins. They spend eight chapters walking slowly all over the place and talking about mundane things, before deciding to buy Misty Harbor Inn, a resort that their mother loved but had been purchased by some people from outside of Nantucket Island, whose plans to upgrade the place were met with massive disapproval by the locals.
Since our sisters are locals, of course everyone is pleased that they are buying the place. The sisters spend the next dozen or so chapters agonizing about their decision when they are not still walking slowly and talking about mundane things, most of which they should already know so who knows why they are rehashing everything out loud all over again.
Then crisis strikes when Caroline decides that maybe she should spend the money elsewhere, earning her her sisters’ ire, and she spends the next three hundred chapters flailing – as if she’d just realized that every part of her body has cancer – and wailing that she needs a sign from God to tell her what to do. I sincerely hope no real life people of any religion gets this melodramatic over purchasing a property, because it’s embarrassing.
And then, finally, after so many chapters of ramble, I come to the cliffhanger ending. I’ve never been so excited to see one in my life.
As you can probably tell from the previous paragraphs, Seaside Harmony suffers from a lack of direction for almost the entire story. It’s ridiculously slow, and every other scene seems suspiciously like padding. Reading this book is like reading day-to-day journal entries by a random stranger, and this is only palatable if that stranger lives a life full of explicit sex, fantastic violence, or other fun things. Here, however, it’s all small talk and aimless chatter as the story creaks and groans its way slowly to the last page.
There is some mystery about the disappearance of a widow in the 1880s that used to own the building that eventually became Misty Harbor Inn, but it’s developed in equal slowness. It has to span across three books, after all. I’m not exactly jumping at the edge of my seat wanting to know what happened to her.
The three sisters lack any distinctive trait, other than Caroline is the one who has a male BFF – it’s BFF because we can’t have anyone joining body bits unless God decrees them to, after all. These sisters are sort of just there, existing to complete each other’s thoughts like badly written characters tend to do. Also, they are in their fifties, but they exhibit a bewildering kind of naïveté that is more at home with sheltered kids. For example, they are shocked that they have to do a lot of work to renovate a building that had been allowed by previous owners to fall into a state of disrepair.
Seaside Harmony is way too slow to be interesting, and it takes forever to actually get anywhere. And when it finally goes somewhere, it’s right to a cliffhanger ending. What the heck is this? Still, as Jesus-approved sleep aid goes, this one is probably safer than sleeping pills.