Friday, May 8, 2015

Review | Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke
Series: Love Comes Softly #1

Published by Bethany House Publishers
Publish Date: January 1, 1979
Source: Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 

She ventured west with the man she loved, but in one day her whole world had crumbled around her...

Nineteen-year-old Marty Claridge starts west with her adventurous, boyish husband, Clem, seeking to claim land and hoping for good fortune. But when the venture turns suddenly to tragedy, Marty is left alone with her great loss. And coupled with her grief and heartache is the grim reality that there is no way to return home.

Clark Davis and his little girl, Missie, are also in great need. Clark's wife has died, leaving him to care to Missie and the farm at the same time. His offer to Marty comes with good intention, but will courage and faith be enough to bring them to true love?

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

My Thoughts:  I am certain that I will never ever get tired of the marriage-for-convenience plot in the frontier-type historical fiction stories that I read. I think that Love Comes Softly was probably the very first story of this type that I read, back when I was very young. I borrowed this book off of the shelf of my grandmother, from her precious book collection - this is when my love affair for Janette Oke's stories began. 

The story begins as Marty is mourning her recently-deceased husband. As a newlywed, this is certainly hard, but it is compounded by the fact that the two were headed west in a covered wagon to homestead, starting their new life together. Now alone in their wagon and carrying his child, she is heartbroken at the prospect that their new life has been cut short before it could barely begin. Marty is approached by Clark with a proposal: pardon me for being so forward, I realizes that you are in an awful predicament, miss, but I need a mother for my young daughter, Missie. Clark's wife died some time earlier and the task of raising an infant has now grown into raising a toddler, and this with farming his sprawling land has become more difficult. With no better options and a begrudging heart, Marty accepts his offer and the two are married right away. 

Clark promises Marty that she needs only to be a mother to Missie and maybe also cook and keep the house. No need to worry about the other marriage duties - see, it is clear that he is mourning his recently deceased wife too. The two tiptoe around one another in the early days as Marty learns how to keep house and as she gets to know Missie. Marty makes plenty of mistakes, but Clark has patience and grace with her every step, helping her more than she ever expected. Marty does not forget Clark's promise to finance her way back to her parents' home on the first train come spring, if she so chooses, and she keeps this tucked away safely in the back of her mind. This is only temporary, she tells herself. But as she adjusts to life around the place, she falls in love with the child, and as her own child grows in her belly, Marty begins to feel more and more at home in this new place and with Clark. The two go through the many good times of life and also through some of the bad times...together, as a family...and it is JUST MARVELOUS to watch this family come together and weave strong ties. Marty considers maybe staying in this place that she has grown to love. 

I love Clark. Right from his first scene on the pages, I love him. I love his goodness and kindness. He has an unshakable, quiet faith that fills the pages. He is one of the most patient characters that I've ever read in my life. It must have taken a huge toll on him to ask Marty to come into the home that belonged to his previous wife, a woman he dearly loved, and to take care of his child like that, particularly when Marty was prickly and in the throes of grief -- but he did it because he knew that he needed the help, that Missie needed the help, and also that Marty needed the help. The sacrifices that Clark made for Marty were many, even as Marty was not able to be as grateful for them in the beginning as she probably could have been (grief, remember) and it made me love Clark even more. He was a gentle leader for Marty with his faith, and this I loved as well - no pushing with Clark, with anything. Gentleness, goodness, kindness. 

I love Marty, too. I felt so much compassion for her in the beginning of the story, after losing her husband. Marty did not begin the story as a Believer, so she was grieving in a different way than Clark and she was puzzled by his faith, but she watched him and she learned from him. I loved her inner dialogue as she tried to figure him out, his prayers, his reading of Scripture. She was only mildly prickly toward Clark, which was good, because she realized that he was a gentleman even though she was so upset. Marty was strong and knew what she needed to do, even when she felt her lowest - she dug her heels in, raised her sleeves, and got to work. This kept her head clear and kept her going. I love reading about how Marty learned to keep house, about her making clothes, about her planting a garden. Part of this book is her coming-of-age, in a way, on the homestead, under what I would consider stressful times -- but with a gentle partner in Clark. 

By the end of this book, every time I read it, I'm all smiles and super-eager to continue with the next story. I love the entire series, but Love Comes Softly is probably my favorite because of Clark's patience and how the two eventually found their way out of convenience and into love.


Love Comes Softly will appeal to fans of:

Historical Fiction, Inspirational
Romance: No Triangle, Slowly Developing
Marriage of Convenience-to-Love
Frontier, Homestead

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke
is currently available for purchase.


The Love Comes Softly Series is: 


This is comfort reading at its finest for me! These are not my favorite covers, to be honest, but the stories never change. 

Has anyone read these? 
Or seen any of the movies? 

1 comment:

  1. So, weirdly I don't think I've read these, but I have seen all the movies! My sister bought them for me for Christmas a few years back. This was my favorite story of the bunch as well - I'm a sucker for a good use of the marriage-of-convenience trope. (There's nothing I enjoy more than watching people get thrown together and seeing how they're able to change and transform each other.) If you haven't seen the movies, look into it - I think Katherine Heigl is Marty, and I really like the actor who plays Clark.


Leave a comment! I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts and I try to respond back!