love comes softly 40 years later

‘Love Comes Softly’ 40 Years of Joy: Why this is a Timeless Romance

September 24, 2019 3 Comments

Long over a decade ago, a girl picked up a novel called Love Comes Softly, and read, alongside her family, a novel of enduring love and a sweet romance. If I were to begin a story about my personal experience with the inspirational prairie novel known as Love Comes Softly, it might begin something this like this.

If you don’t know what Love Comes Softly is about, it follows a young woman named Marty. Full of enthusiasm and love for her new husband, Marty’s future shatters when she’s left a young widow just as she and her husband find land where they plan to build a life. With winter on its way, a widower Clark Davis proposes a marriage of convenience offering shelter to Marty and her unborn child, and for Marty’s help in caring for his own young daughter, Missie.

From there, the title is indicative of the story you’ll read inside these pages.

Years later, that novel is celebrating its 40th year of publication. This is why, today, celebrating it seems like a lovely notion, especially for those of us who’s young reader years were impacted by this work of fiction. This is why we remember Love Comes Softly 40 years later.

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The best way I can think of to remember this novel is by putting pen (or as is this case, a keyboard and cursor) to paper (computer screen), and recount some of those memories. This is what we do today, we remember all those feels.

love comes softly 40 years later

I cannot pinpoint the year I read the first book nor do I remember if I read it solo for the first time or if, what I do remember, reading it with my family was the first experience I had with it. Long winter evenings were spent around our kitchen table as we took turns passing the book around; a time during which I was young enough that I stumbled over the pronunciation of strange words like “crochet.”

Subsequent to this, we even went through the novels that resulted from the “spin off” series cantered on Virginia. These stories are the kind of books with no hidden agenda. The storytelling is simple, but also timeless. It’s this quality that endears it to so many readers of Christian fiction. Plus, the romance is as sweet as they come.

Then much to the delight of legions of movie fans and readers alike, in 2003, Hallmark, adapted the novel to screen, directed by Michael Landon Jr. This event in the timeline of Love Comes Softly comes with another memory. I grew up without any kind of cable TV, so seeing the movie was out of my reach. But I did try and convince my parent’s that seeing it at my cousin’s house would be doable. It was a good idea that didn’t quite work out, but fortunately, the film eventually arrived on home video.

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The movie stars the now popular actress Katherine Heigl as Marty, and Dale Midkiff as Clark. Throughout the film, some creative liberties are taken, and changes made. But for the most part, this film in the series is beautiful, not to mention well-acted by its top line cast. It was this 2003 event that inspired me to re-read the book.

As I think back on my memories of this book, its characters and the story, I couldn’t help but wonder, does anyone else have vivid memories or reactions to this novel? This prompted me to send out an email to some readers to ask them. Some of my bookish friends and fellow readers graciously replied to my ninth hour request, sharing their own memories of what this book means or their reaction to it. These are their memories.

Memories and Quotes from Reader Friends: Love Comes Softly 40 Years Later


I definitely have fond memories of being young (not exactly how young but probably 12-14?) and reading Love Comes Softly for the first time. I was caught up with a new world on the prairie and the wooing romance between main characters that was bold but showcased the love of God. There was something my young, girl-heart loved so much about a man who would be so patient and kind and it gave me “all the feels” and a desire to read more books like that.  – Emilie of CreateExploreRead | Instagram

I found Janette Oke during a lonely time in my marriage. Her “Love Comes Softly” series was the second series of hers that I read. (I read “When Calls the Heart” first!) It gave me a sense of joy and reminded me that God was with me in a special way in spite of any difficulties I was experiencing. I was touched by the story of Marty and Clem, and the initial movie was very special and captured the very heart of this book!

– Ruth of My Devotional Thoughts | Twitter

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The memory I have of Love Comes Softly is it’s the first adult book I read. I was in middle school so 11 or 12 and I had read all the kids historical fiction I wanted and there wasn’t much middle grade of teen historical fiction but I wanted more and my mom handed me her original copy 1st edition of Love Comes softly to read because she knew that even at 11 Janette Oke was safe to read. This book was what got me into Christian Fiction, I was already a historical fiction reader. – Carissa

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My beloved grandma lived all of her 93 years as a passionate reader of fiction. During my childhood years, no birthday or Christmas passed without the gift of a novel from her. As I unwrapped the books, she would always mischievously tell me she’d read it first. Not to check its suitability, but because she loved to read and didn’t buy books for herself! Love Comes Softly was the first Christian novel she gifted me shortly after it released, so yes, I’m that old! I fell in love with Marty and Clark and their family so my grandma continued to add to my Janette Oke collection fin the years that followed. While my reading taste has moved from prairie romance these days, I will always treasure Love Comes Softly for its connection to my grandma and as my introduction to faith-based stories. It would be fair to say Love Comes Softly was the initial impetus – albeit unknown at the time – for my Christian Fiction blog, Relz Reviewz, celebrating it’s 13th anniversary this month!
– Rel of Relz Reviewz | Twitter | Instagram

Thank you to everyone who contributed a memory for this ‘Love Comes Softy 40 years later’ write up. I appreciate this. Visit their web spaces by clicking on their names.

A collection of memories for a novel that in some ways changed the face of Christian fiction; it might not be revolutionary, but it IS a novel worth its weight, and sometimes the most impacting stories are those that come upon us… softly.


(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Read the disclosure page for details.)

You can find Love Comes Softly on Amazon Video (Hallmark movie) or purchase the 40th anniversary edition novel, available now.

‘Love Comes Softly’ 40 Years of Joy: Why this is a Timeless Romance. Talking about Love Comes Softly 40 years later. Text (except when noted) © Rissi JC
‘Love Comes Softly’ 40 Years of Joy: Why this is a Timeless Romance. Talking about Love Comes Softly 40 years later, and its impact on readers! Click To Tweet

Many thanks to my fellow readers and friends for sharing their Love Comes Softly 40 years later memories! Shoutout to Carissa, Emilie, Rel, and Ruth! I appreciate you joining in this random discussion post. (If you sent me something for this, and I neglected to include it here, let me know! It’s just a terrible oversight on my part.)

Do you have a special memory of Love Comes Softly 40 years later? Did you know that it’s the books 40th anniversary? If you haven’t read it, have you heard of it, or seen it in the wild? Share your ‘Love Comes Softly 40 years later’ memories in the comments. I’ve love to chat with you about all of your thoughts, opinions, memories or feels about this classic historical romance.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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3 Comments

  • Rel Mollet September 25, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Terrific post, Rissi – such a pivotal book. Thanks for sharing my memory :)

    • Rissi JC September 28, 2019 at 11:59 pm

      THANK YOU for joining in, Rel. I so appreciate your words. :)

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