Usually I like stories that reconcile characters who have been distant, whether it’s emotional or literal. This novelization offers no more unique a perspective than most prodigal sagas. Unfolding in the 300-plus pages is the life of Faith Carraway who now knows her husband Luke is under investigation on suspicion of a Ponzi scheme. Leaving behind the New York life she and Luke built together, Faith heads back to the place she wasn’t sure she’d ever see again: Home. Once there, Faith reunites with her father and sister and tries to deal with her scared past.
Because I saw the film first, while reading the novel, it’s much easier to visualize the scenes, places and people. Rene Gutteridge was asked to put John Ward’s script to a novel, and though written well, this isn’t my cup of tea. It’s a time worn story that somehow seems more heart-tugging on screen. On screen, I care about the characters more than I do here. It isn’t because the novel is “bad” or that it doesn’t tell its tale well, rather I feel it’s stifled. It takes a while for me to get “into” the story whereas the film offers the reasons for “why” in flashbacks, which keeps us more invested. I also think that the sister relationship is more “open” and genuine in this novel; Olivia and Faith share some good heart-to-hearts and despite their differences, both are willing to do anything for each other.
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Another disappointment in the book is the character, Lee. Granted, he’s an attempt at a “distraction” relationship for Faith, but surprisingly, he’s never a stumbling block. This said, the book ill uses him. In the film, you get to “know” him so much better. There is history between he and Faith that is never fully touched in the book whereas the film helps us understand the choices the characters ultimately make. The film is more sensitive to Lee’s perspective and also, I like Luke better in the script. The story is fine, but there’s nothing unique. The characters are learning what they need to, and are open to learning, day by day, what God has in store for them. In this way, this Heart of the Country book does uplift.
About the Book:
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Author: Rene Gutteridge with John Ward
Publication Date: 2013
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Genre: Fiction; Contemporary/General
Rating: 3 out of 5
With thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this Heart of the Country book for reviewing purposes – my sincere apologies for posting this review late.