Sometimes I select a book because of the cover, sometimes it's because of the author, sometimes it's the description. There are a times a publisher will stand out and because of their reputation I'll grab up a novel.
In this case it was the cover that caught my attention. The name of the title, "The Hideaway". Now, how is that not appealing to one who would at times love to escape from this world? The description of the novel is simply lovely. I love the idea of the present and the past colliding. I enjoy a novel when the author takes us from the present to a time remembered.
When I choose a novel from Thomas Nelson I am expecting it to be a Christian novel. Especially when it is classified as such. So, for me to review this book I first have to review on the basis of this information. This novel is nothing even near a faith based novel. If a reader is expecting to pick up a novel that is a unputdownable read, but one that is based first in faith that's what one should receive from a publisher as Thomas Nelson. With this novel faith cannot be found within these pages.
A Christian novel that surrounds itself around lies and an affair. That doesn't sound logical, right? If I had to simply do a review based on that alone this novel would receive a 3 out of 5 stars. But that is more so basing a review on what the publisher is selling as faith based.
So, this is where it gets difficult. This is the debut novel of this author. I must then review this selection for her writing style, for the story told as it is penned by her hand. If this novel were on another shelf, found in another aisle I would give it 5 stars.
This is where I am pulled as a reviewer. More and more we are seeing Christian publishers go in a different route, but still classifying their novels as Christian, faith based, when they contain nothing of the sort.
As this writer's debut novel I am honored to read her work. She has penned a beautiful novel about love lost, regret, and finding that we come to truly know ourselves when we let go of self.
When I began reading the first chapter I was caught, hook, line, and sinker. I didn't want to put this book down. Mags, a woman from the past. A time when everything was different. Women had their place. Men had theirs. Women were to make it work, and in essence know their place. My heart ached for Maggie. I was excited to get to the chapters where she was speaking of her life. Denton writes in such a way that brings the heart of the character to life.
We flip from the 1960s to present day. This is where we find Sarah, a young woman, busy with her own shop. She seems to push away everyone who could possibly make room in her heart. She's an introvert. One who is talented on many scales, but one who hides herself away from the world around her. All except for the young man who works with her. He has his own style and she gives him room to be himself, but without intruding in her space. He is truly the only one who knows her. She's allowed him to see more of herself than any other.
She receives a call that her grandmother has passed away. This is where the novel takes off. From here we get to know Sarah and Maggie. Their lives intertwine as we meet many characters who surround their lives. They all give something of beauty to this novel. No character is out of place. They all give way for this novel to weave a place in the readers heart.
We can look at the life of Sarah and we can easily relate to her. In our busy world we are simply busy with what we want to be busy with and we forget about those who seem so far away from our daily schedule. We think we have another day to meet up, place a call, or have dinner, but sadly, that last meeting always comes sort of what we only now wish life would have held for us.
I love how Maggie has Sarah restore the B&B to it's full glory of what it should be. Kind of like life, right? We let things go and they get run down and forgotten. While Sarah is restoring the house she learns more about her grandmother and in turn learns more about herself. About the life she no longer lets pass her by in busyness, but one she chooses to live fully with no regret.
Maggie lived with regret. She lived her life wishing for another life. But she too lived with secrets. These secrets not only touched her life, but the lives of others. Keeping these secrets hidden didn't bring about a life well lived, but one that only remembered regret and loss.
There is beauty to be found within these pages. A story unfolds that leads us to know the importance of living truth and knowing ourselves well enough to pursue a life beyond one that is only a lost dream.
If you are searching for a novel that is penned in deep faith this isn't that novel. But it is one that is a lovely read where it can lead one to ponder their own life and to reach beyond the hidden deep into a life where we allow others to enter without fear of being wounded.
I am excited to see what's next for this author. 😊
This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.
Lauren K. Denton Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she's rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. The Hideaway is her first novel.