After hundreds of books and movie reviews behind me, I've developed some strong opinions. I write reviews for those wanting input on a book, movie or product choice rather than for those who merely want me to say a few good words. Yet I try to find the best in the book to point out. It's a tricky balance sometimes. And my absolute loves may not appeal to the average reader. I tend to love books that make me laugh or honestly cry, books that are almost works of art with words being the artist's medium. I generally avoid romance, Amish fiction and sci-fi because I find them too formulaic for the most part.
Where Love Once Lived is a novel that is very likely "the" story on the author's heart and I know how much time, sweat, tears and blood go into writing one of those stories. I have a few of those sitting on my computer hard drives. Mr. Frost is articulate and able to tell a winding tale that centers on two people torn apart by circumstances and their own immaturity. Karen and Brian were college sweethearts, but, after things got too hot and heavy, the relationship was broken as were their hearts.
Thirty years later Brian returns "home" after his divorce and finds that Karen has divorced as well. They each have secrets that they go through great emotional turmoil to protect. Struggling to forgive themselves and each other fills the pages of this novel, a very real issue that many readers will relate to.
Mr. Frost has created an extras cast of characters who go along for the emotional roller coaster ride with Brian and Karen. One character shares Mr. Frost's love of opera, and another is the heavy but loveable librarian who helps Brian run the Bookmobile which was purchased in an attempt to win Karen's heart.
Struggles and trials plague the love-crossed couple. Karen has a crisis at work, and in the midst of that she takes in a former student who is pregnant with nowhere else to turn. Brian finds himself at the mercy of stock holders. A marriage between characters causes drama in his circle of friends. Brian discovers secrets about his parents and his marriage that force him to consider running far away to another place where he had once found happiness. Can this couple finally find true love and restoration? Will they find the emotional maturity and the spiritual hope they need to embrace another relationship regardless of their past failures? Only the reader will know.
Where Love Once Lived may appeal to readers who like the romance novel plots wherein the characters begin to grow closer to each other until an obstacle or multiple obstacles rip them apart...the idea that love is an endless series of ocean waves drawing the characters back to shore against the odds of them being cast adrift alone. Some inspirational readers may find something to like if they are not sensitive to sex outside of marriage and divorce. If so, the subject matter may be too much for them, however, the consequences of both are some of the struggles this couple faces. Those looking for a strong Gospel message may be disappointed, but others who like light religion and the message of God's love, forgiveness and patience may find what they are looking for here. Literary fiction lovers will probably want to avoid it. This novel falls more toward the weight and formula of romance versus love story, so keep that in mind as well.
(The Wordsmith Journal strives to guide readers to books of personal interest, with the understanding and respect that what appeals to some may not appeal to others. Therefore we attempt to keep our reviews focused on content, genre and style. The rating is necessary to make use of Goodreads and Amazon. It reflects the reviewer's own level of enjoyment, but the review is intended to be informative for the benefit of all readers.)