Love's Unfolding Dream (by Janette Oke)

I like reading Janette Oke's light historical fiction when I need to relax or unwind. Her writing is good, her historical detail accurate, as far as I can tell, and certainly realistic, and her characters come to life in her books. Although the author herself is Canadian, many of her books are set in the pioneer days of the USA.

'Love's Unfolding Dream' is the sixth in the 'Love Comes Softly' series about Marty and Clark, and their various offspring. This one is set about twelve years after the previous book in the series ('Love's Unending Legacy') and is about their youngest daughter Belinda. As the baby of the family, she has grown up with a deep compassion, and longs to accompany her doctor brother, Luke, in his work.

Meanwhile Melissa, who is Belinda's niece but around the same age, comes to live with Marty and Clark, in preparation for going away to college. It's very hard for Melissa to leave her family, but Marty is delighted to have a granddaughter to stay. Melissa is very different from Belinda, and they are both different from her other niece of similar age, Amy Jo. Naturally there are jealousies and disagreements, particularly when a new and rather handsome young man joins their school.

There's nothing deep in this book; it's a light read, which would be suitable for older children or teenagers who like reading about this time in history. There's a definite underlying Christian theme throughout, but it's fairly low key without being preachy. The people are all quite believable, leading to some very moving sections where I had tears in my eyes.

All in all, highly recommended, although it helps to have read others in the series. However, since there's such a gap between this book and the previous one, there is at a short opening section describing and naming all Marty and Clark's children and grandchildren. I had to refer to this a few times as I was reading, since so many of them had appeared in the gap between the novels.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 8th October 2009

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