Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Front Porch Princess, by Kathryn Springer

Kathryn Springer
ISBN: 0-373-78558-5
Women's Fiction
Book #07-009

Elise Penny has spent much of her life dreaming of getting away from small-town Prichett, Wisconsin. Falling for Sam and giving birth to Breanna before their first wedding anniversary has effectively tied Elise to the life she wanted so much to escape. Now that Bree is a teenager and has set her sights on a local boy, Elise is terrified that her daughter will waste her potential and end up stuck in Prichett, too.

When Bree enters Elise in a Christian beauty pageant, Elise does her best to get out of it, b ut soon realizes that the whole town is invested in the competition. Elise is the only one who seems to be avoiding preparations for the pageant as she helps her friend Bernice through a family crisis, becomes friends with (and mentor to) the new pastor's wife, and finds herself up to her ears in local events. Meanwhile, Sam is feeling hurt that even after all their years together, Elise still hasn't given up on her belief that rural life is inferior to the life she thinks she gave up to marry him. Bree is angry that Elise is pushing her so hard to go to college and shake the dust of Prichett off her feet. And Elise is bewildered that the town's view of her is so different from her own view of herself. The more Elise learns about the Proverbs 31 Woman, the less qualified she feels to compete for the title.

Kathryn Springer has written an engaging, funny, and ultimately heartwarming story about the power of dreams and faith to shape our lives. Elise's reaction to Annie, the pastor's wife, is wry and touching as she deals with the younger woman's conviction that they are friends. Bernice, the town hairdresser, is a bit brash, but her larger-than-life personality is masking a grief that adds a level of realism to the story. Readers will be pleased to learn that Bernice gets her own book, as author Springer leaves plenty of tantalizing business unfinished at the end of FRONT PORCH PRINCESS. Sam is a husband to die for, and Elise's adventures as the pageant draws near will leave readers smiling, if not laughing outright.

FRONT PORCH PRINCESS is a down-home treasure, sure to be savored for its easy-going approach to everyday faith.

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