Title: Home to Harmony
Author: Philip Gulley
Length: 215 pages
Genre: inspirational fiction
Plot Basics: Sam Gardner is a Quaker pastor who moves back to his hometown, Harmony, Ind., to take over the pastorate of the Harmony Friends Meeting. What follows is a series of heart-warming and humorous vignettes about small-town church life, from the near-disaster of the Friendly Women's Circle annual Chicken Noodle Dinner to the ill-conceived ideas of conspiracy theorist and church elder Dale Hinshaw.
Banter Points: Gulley does for small town Indiana what Garrison Keillor has done for Lake Woebegon, Clyde Edgerton for Listre, North Carolina and Jon Hastert for life in Minnesota. Harmony is an endearing little place and Gulley's insights are fantastic salt-of-the-earth prose, offering nuggets of wisdom about how people in churches behave and treat each other while keeping readers turning pages for the next funny anecdote.
Bummer Points: There's not an overarching plot, per se, to this book. This seems a bit odd to Word Nerd since it's the start of a series.
Word Nerd recommendation: If you are looking for a cheerful book, this is it. Word Nerd often steers clear of inspirational fiction because it's either so poorly written or so contrived that it's painful to read. Gulley manages to capture heart without being cheesy. Word Nerd's not going to run straight out and check out book two, but will definitely go back to this series for a light-hearted break from crime novels and the like.