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Just Shy Of Harmony [Paperback]

Philip Gulley
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 4 2004 Gulley, Philip

Come Home to Harmony ...

Thousands of readers have fallen in love with Harmony, the small town with the kindly spirit whose endearing and eccentric residents are like old friends. Join them for Sam Gardner's second year as pastor of his quirky flock.

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Product Description

From Amazon

In Just Shy of Harmony, Philip Gulley's follow-up novel to Home to Harmony, the award-winning author again offers matchless slices of small-town life as he catches us up on the doings of the quirky characters that inhabit this small community. Beloved minister Sam Gardner slides into depression as his little Quaker church, which once had goals of spreading the gospel and ending world hunger, now juggles such lofty issues as what type of vanity table to put in the ladies' restroom and the progress of its chicken noodle sales. Gulley gently pokes fun at evangelical Christianity's foibles through his characterizations, including church member Dale Hinshaw's "Scripture egg project" (chickens lay eggs with Scripture in the yolks to reach the unsaved). There are poignant moments: Wayne Fleming's wife Sally has deserted him and his three kids, and now Wayne is in love with lawyer Deena Morrison, owner of the Legal Grounds Coffee Shop. When Sally returns home, Wayne must make the most difficult decision of his life. Reading one of Gulley's stories is as comfortable as sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, listening to an old friend spin tales. This installment in the Harmony series is sure to win Gulley some new fans and please his loyal following. --Cindy Crosby --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

When Sam Gardner reads an article about "the ten warning signs of depression" in a Christian magazine, he discovers that he has seven of them. The article closes by telling readers that if they have seven or more signs of depression, they should see their pastor. The trouble is, Sam is the pastor. He's tired of writing sermons and exhausted by his congregation's resistance to any change more meaningful than installing a new vanity in the women's bathroom. In this refreshingly candid novel, a sequel of sorts to Home to Harmony, the members of Harmony's quirky Friends Meeting engage in various struggles with depression and doubt. Like Jan Karon, Gulley has a gift for understanding the hilarity and pathos of small churches in small towns. With his characteristic wry humor, he develops a host of side characters, from Dale Hinshaw, the self-righteous and infuriating church elder, to the salt-of-the-earth lottery winner, Jessie Peacock. Gulley is unflinching at depicting some of the church members' narrow-mindedness, but he never succumbs to stereotype. While some readers may initially have a difficult time adjusting to the way Gulley often switches from the past to the present tense, this device helps the book play out like a comfortable, down-to-earth conversation. Many readers will relate to Sam's honest struggles with faith and will appreciate the book's subtle message: that Sam's faith is rekindled only when he steps away from congregational infighting and begins to help others. This story is a winner.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Sam Gardner sat on the porch the Monday after Easter. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a complete joy to read Feb. 12 2004
If you enjoy the novels of Jan Karon, you will appreciate this, the second offering by author Philip Gulley. Gulley is a Quaker pastor from Danville, Indiana. And like Ms. Karon, he writes about everyday life in a small town congregation, with a master storyteller's keen eye.
Gully relates the odd doings of a kindly but befuddled pastor named Sam Gardner and the distinctively quirky members of his more-typical-than-one-might-admit congregation in a small Midwestern town. Since the author serves a congregation in a place not unlike the fictional pastor Gardner, his main character could be the author's, or any, pastor's alter ego.
Who could resist such hilarious activities as the implausible ideas that emerge from the free-for-all annual "Goal-Setting Sunday" and lengthy discussions over what color the new laminate in the ladies room vanity should be? The book relates silly proposals that actually get voted "in" such as a new outreach initiative, the "Scripture Egg" project, in which small verses of Holy Writ are fed to chickens, so that when their eggs are broken, the verse emerged. No, I am not making this up!
You will be amused by everything from near slapstick church meetings to the newspaper columnist who unwittingly sparks and flames the rumors of the town's gossip mill from his observation window overlooking the town's main street. Any you may even be reminded of similar situations you have experienced yourself. Because a second glance at even the most amusing of these improbable people will confirm your first suspicion: This is completely true to life. The author knows his subject through and through.
This book made me laugh out loud many times, as I read about everything whimsical in Harmony, Indiana.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just Shy of Satire Aug. 19 2002
Mr. Gulley takes an irregular route to the very heart of things, complete with a test of faith. The reader returns to Harmony where once again the author shines up the mediocre and the mundane and turns it into a miracle. A very sympathetic look into the discouragement of leading a church of willy nilly believers, with one or both feet in the past and blinders on their eyes. The reader will learn why goal setting and a gymnasium aren't necessarily a good thing for a church, and how a run-away wife and mother can pull people together. The accidental lottery winners and scripture eggs and yes - gossip - keep things interesting, when life isn't always harmonious. Believe it or not, there is something for everyone here in this story of a Quaker minister challenging faith and depression. The well intentioned, as well as the goofier members of this congregation, are kindly and humorously set out in caricatures that leave you laughing or shaking your head (and I'm betting you'll recognize some of these folks). The Friendly Women taking on the liberal press and hijacking the hospital kitchen was simply a touch of genius. The gentle people of Harmony occasionally practice the fine art of indifference, but joy and faith, steadiness and kindness carry through. A thought provoking and profound ending that challenges the reader to come up with their own explanation. Might giving thanks be more important than seeking the truth?
Don't miss Gulley's other warm, wonderful and charming books: Home to Harmony, Front Porch Tales and For Everything There A Season ... divided into easy to digest chapters for all ages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Storytelling Feb. 25 2002
Last weekend I spent a wonderful year in Harmony reacquainting myself with the good citizens of this simple Indiana town. This is the second book in a series about the small town of Harmony, Indiana. Brought to life by a master storyteller,the common folks of Harmony will make you laugh, cry, pull your hair out in disgust, and leave you with a warm feeling. Phil Gulley will lead you down a path of character assassination and, just as you have passed judgment, facts are revealed to reverse your feelings 180 degrees. A subtle lesson in prejudging others results in a paradigm shift that leaves you rooting for the underdog. I can't wait for the next book in the Harmony series to find out what Dale, Sam, Jessie, Deena, Fern, and all the other great folks of Harmony will be up to.
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By A Customer
This book was excellent. A lot more serious than the first, but definitely with its lighter moments, like with the Scripture Egg project. I'm sure that many people can relate to the characters in this book, who are so believable. I can relate to Sam's struggles with his belief in God, as I'm sure that many have experienced the crisis of faith. I was touched by Asa's and Jessie's generosity with the lottery money and how the town pulled together over Sally's illness. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. And the author himself is such a nice guy. I have friends who used to go to his church, and he responded quickly to an e-mail where I complimented him on his first Harmony book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner from Philip Gulley Jan. 12 2003
In this wonderful sequel to Home to Harmony, Sam is beginning his second year as pastor of Harmony Friends Meeting. This sequel, as the first book, follows a year in Harmony. Dale Hinshaw is still getting on Sam's (and everyone else's) nerves and has a new idea for witnessing - scripture eggs. Deena Morrison, owner of Legal Grounds, returns and plays a bigger part as does Wayne Fleming.
I enjoyed this book even more than the original. Instead of the vignettes of small-town life that the original had, the sequel follows a more traditional storyline and I found that the characters came even more to life for me in this fashion!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifiting read
Unlike the Mitford books, Gulley asks the question, what is faith without testing? The characters portrayed here ring true and earnest, similar to those in Katherine Valentine's... Read more
Published on May 26 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars WASTE OF TIME
After having read all of Jan Karon's books I had a taste for the same read - and mistakenly stumbled on this incredibly horrible series. Never Again - quote this raven. Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2003 by Sandy Rhoad
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and Wonderful
This is the first book I've found that hits close to the best in the Mitford series. It's different than the Mitford series, tho. It's more concise and succinct. Read more
Published on May 11 2003 by Ann Sherry
5.0 out of 5 stars Spend some time in Harmony!
These two books are fantastic! Very "Mitford" like and I know Philip Gulley has a bright writing future ahead of him! Buy them today! Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winning book by Phil Gulley
My whole family (teenager included) just finished reading this delightful book. We all found ourselves laughing over the scripture egg project, and the folks of Harmony. Read more
Published on May 13 2002 by Julie S.
3.0 out of 5 stars Another trip to Harmony
I have anxiously awaited the release of this second book in the Harmony series. It was like a visit with old friends to return to the small town of Harmony through Philip Gulley's... Read more
Published on March 1 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Visit Harmony and you will never want to leave
Phillip Gulley is my favorite author. I have waited a long time for the second book in the Harmony series. Mr. Gulley has a way of writing in such a way you can feel the spirit. Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2002 by Doug Scott
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