The Splendor of Ordinary Days: A Novel of Watervalley. Jeff High. Penguin Group (USA). October 2015. 432 pp. ISBN#: 9780451474100.
Luke Bradford, in this third Watervalley novel, has become more attached to the rustic beauty and pleasant, interesting people of Watervalley, Tennessee. Part of it is the satisfaction he experiences with his medical practice and the stronger part is definitely his budding romance with Christine Chambers. However, there’s always something brewing in the town that starts out small and grows with distressing power and the latest quandary is what keeps Luke from giving his whole heart to the town and the decision to permanently stay.
The latest conflict involves a phone call one night that there’s a fire close to the Mennonite community nearby. Once the first responders arrive, they stop as they realize they will not be needed, for the Mennonite have their own fire brigade and reject any outside involvement. The only man who has plenty of experience with the Mennonites is Luther Whitmore but what that is seems completely unknown to the townspeople. When Luther, editor of the town newspaper, pens an irate editorial in the paper, though posed as a news story, the residents fail to see a connection and instead start conversations that put veterans to the forefront. The town is proud of all the men who died in past wars over the last hundred years and so everyone accepts Luther’s irate words as gospel truth.
The secrets around this problem will gradually be revealed, as well as an effort to honor military veterans in the town with a memorial. Luke, however, has an uncanny ability to warm up conversations and several characters in the book wind up eventually sharing their military and secular secrets, in this novel yielding forgiveness, repentance and healing that can only benefit Watervalley.
Luke and Christine will battle their own personal challenge, the first to test their deep love and personalities.
The Splendor of Ordinary Days… is a wonderful read with muted conflicts but high energy when it comes to being protective and caring toward each resident of the valley. The descriptions of animals and setting, as well, are gently presented and make the reader feel he or she is also a resident, fully satisfied and loving one’s surroundings and neighbors. Nicely crafted, Jeff High, again! Recommended to all and the earlier novels in this series as well!