Book Review: Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly

Love Comes Softly, authored by Janette Oke, is a historical fiction featuring young Marty and her husband Clem who set off to the West (America) to find a better life. Unfortunately, Clem dies shortly and on the day of his burial, Clark proposes to Marty. Clark is a widower who was searching for a ‘Mama’ for his one-year daughter. Marty, who had almost nothing, was left with no choice but to follow Clark and be a mummy to Missie and if she did not like it, would head back to the East. Talk of a marriage of convenience.

The Setting

The book took readers to several centuries in the past when people lived in cabins, had farms, reared animals for their food and used horses as means of transportation. As a reader, I could picture the small cabin that Marty had to live in with Clark and her daughter and how the place could freeze during the winter and be warm during the other seasons. I appreciated the communal living where the neighbours aided each other in their activities, for instance, to clear their lands for cultivation, to build cabins or quench a fire. There was that sense of togetherness that existed among them. Although some were portrayed as extremely poor, they still managed to visit each other and present gifts when the need arose. The simplicity of life in those centuries was refreshing to read about.

Clark

Clark was introduced as a good Christian man who ‘never beats’ his wife. His ways of showing love in the book were mainly through acts of service and being generous. He did not talk much but took Marty in, gave her the space she needed to function and figure things out without forcing anything on her. He eventually became a father to Clem’s son and he did that so well.

Marty

She is the main character of the book and the story is woven around her. She was initially sad, became confused, hated Clark in the beginning for having the guts to propose to her while she mourned her husband and eventually had to learn a lot about housekeeping, cooking and being a mum. The portion of the book which got me chuckling was when she felt she could kill a rooster for dinner but did not imagine how difficult and daunting that task could be.

The Bad

The conversational language used by the characters was a bit difficult to read and understand. The accent was quite heavy, making me skip a few of those lines.

Spoiler Alert: The portion I found a little puzzling was when Clark (although married to Marty) never made any sexual advances towards Marty in all of the 149-page book. How?  🤔  I know he was a Christian and all but for a book like this, Clark should have ‘attempted something.’  🙈🙈  On the other hand, that makes the book quite clean and could be consumed by younger readers.

The Good

What later became the love that had developed between Marty and Clark was simply beautiful. It was not based on beauty, mushy feelings and butterflies but could be described as genuine love. It was deliberate, portrayed kindness, patience, care and real affection that had been cultivated for almost two years.

Love Comes Softly is not preachy and that is how readers get to know more about the birth of Christ, Easter and how to navigate through life’s challenges without giving up (when Clark’s barn got burnt). It also emphasises the Christian’s lifestyle and its ability to influence others. That is also portrayed in how Clark eventually got Marty interested in the God he worshipped.

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