The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller – Book Review

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Published by Bethany House Publishers April 04, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian

Pages: 340

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

With her penchant for seeing the best in everyone, Hope Irvine sees a world full of good people in hard places. When her father accepts a position traveling in a chapel car as an on-the-rail missionary, she is determined to join him in his efforts and put her musical skills to good use by serving the mining families of West Virginia, saving their souls, and bettering their lives.

Luke Hughes shares Hope’s love of music and her love of God, but as a poor miner he knows he can offer her no future. Still, the notes she sings resonate in his heart. When she begins to travel with a young mine manager to neighboring counties, Luke can hardly suppress his jealousy. It isn’t until he begins to suspect these missions of mercy might be the mine manager’s cover for illegal purposes, though, that Luke feels justified in speaking up. But how can he discover the truth without hurting Hope or, worse, putting her in danger?

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Story Notes

Judith Miller’s newest story takes a look back at a time when coal mining towns in West Virginia were plentiful and missionaries were preachers and their families who did whatever it took to share Jesus with those in rural areas.

In all honesty, I probably would not give this book 3 out of 5 stars merely on its plot or story telling alone –  I found it very predictable and boring. However, I am giving it a higher rating because I like the idea that was presented. It was extremely interesting to me that this man and his daughter would give up a very comfortable living in Pittsburgh to travel to remote areas of West Virginia to share the love of Jesus. And not only did they travel there, they lived in a rail car with very cramped living quarters! I’m not one for small spaces myself, but I found myself wondering if I would be willing to do the same if called by God to go. My hope is that my answer would be yes, but I would definitely have to make some adjustments to living in such a small area. Now I must tell you my honest opinions of the story itself. To be completely fair I will say that the writing was well done with a good variety of vocabulary, this was a good surprise. The plot, on the other hand, was dreadfully predictable and boring to me. I had the story totally figured out by the hundredth page and I had to force myself to read to the end of the book – that is never a good thing. It reminded me most keenly of the multitudinous Hallmark movies I have seen, which, in themselves, are nice but are ever so predictable. I am a reader who enjoys a good story that is well told and includes unexpected turns or thoughts, so its hard when I get a story that is missing these elements. Ms. Miller has written many books and I know she has a loyal fan base but I doubt I will ever be one of them. Another big issue I had with this story was the characters themselves: Hope was one of the inexperienced women I’ve ever read about! Her naivete was so incredibly deep that she was completely blinded by a smooth talker. My parents didn’t raise me to be a cynic but they did teach me caution and wisdom – something Hope’s father, Reverend Irvine, failed to do. I think this was the point of Ms. Miller’s story, but I found Hope’s ignorance to be rather extreme. Luke Hughes was a better character but still seemed to be rather two dimensional. His brashness and cynicism are to be expected from a man who has seen his family taken advantage of his whole life, but Ms. Miller made his ire random and inconsistent, making his  character appear under developed. Kirby Finch was a grown man who acted like a spoiled brat the whole time. Clearly his father overindulged him but his total brattiness was annoying to me. Usually “men” like that find that intimidation works best to keep people in line. But as he was a smaller built character he resorted to bandying words. Ms. Miller should have spent more time developing his vocabulary as he would have had better speech patterns given his upbringing in private schools. So while this book might be of better interest to some, it was definitely not a favorite for me. I will not be recommending this book to others except if they profess an interest in missionary endeavors of the early 20th century.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from Bethany House Publishers for this review.

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