Yet even as I confess this, I realize my prejudice is subjective. Like many churchgoers, I've sat through some wince-worthy musical offerings and have celebrated the offerer for willingness to give. Still, those performances are gifts, and the publishers seem to have a more cynical perspective:
“We call it ‘bonnet fiction.’ You slap a bonnet on the cover and double the sales.” said Steve Oates, marketing vice president for Bethany House in a 2010 interview in Newsweek (reported on The Daily Beast).
These thoughts and more rattle through my mind every time I shelve and re-shelve “gentle” reads. At the same time, I realize the need to confront my prejudices and examine them, and the popularity of Karen Kingsbury (author of Life-Changing FictionTM ) made me decide to take a look at her latest title, The Bridge.
The Bridge of the title was a bookstore before the hundred-year flood hit Franklin, Tennessee. Already in a tenuous state financially with the recession and the rise of e-books, the Bartons, the owners of the bookstore, seem only to have the option of selling, and thereby losing, their livelihood and dreams.
Meanwhile, former college sweethearts Molly and Ryan are living their lives but missing each other and the moments they cherished at The Bridge. Ryan is at a crossroads in his music career when he hears about the troubles the Bartons are facing and decides to do what he can to help.
My guess is that those who are already fans of Kingsbury will like this sweet, predictable title. Readers looking for a gentle read may also like this book. I didn’t dislike it, but I did find myself wondering about a couple of plot points. If the Bartons were so strong in their faith (not billboard-like, but certainly implied) one could reasonably assume they belonged to a faith community, so where was that community? Or, leaving aside the faith community, if the Bartons and their store touched so many in their community and beyond, how did so many months go by before an outsider noticed their troubles?
The Bridge was released on October 23rd and is available for checkout. Amazon also shows an eBook prequel to the story for 99 cents.