Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (2.5 points)
Melody Carlson’s latest novel, Courting Mr. Emerson, is a real treat. In a surprising turn of events, the novel has defied my expectations and may be her best novel to date. At the very least, this new book is equally as good as her acclaimed title, Finding Alice. George Emerson is set in his ways. He has a schedule that contains one or more agendas for each day that will be met, which has in turn led to a very successful teaching career. He is dedicated to his students and feels things more deeply than he would ever admit. He never colors outside the lines, has the morals of a saint, and is in perfect control….but he is alone. Faced with an early retirement and the resulting big life changes, George clings more tightly to the illusion of control. Will he succeed? Willow West loves life and people. She pursued her dreams at the expense of her past relationships and personal life, but finally found God and learned that He doesn’t expect us to have it all together. She loves God, art, and her grandson, and can’t stand for people to be lonely or set in their ways. When Willow meets George, she feels an unexplainable connection and sympathy for his lonely lifestyle. However, when her innate need to help others (frequently) crosses the line to pushiness, will her friendship with George be compromised? To find out more, read the book!;) I can honestly say that this is a book worth reading. The steady flow of eccentric and truly funny humor is neither overdone or underdone, making for a enjoyable read that flows quite well. The only errors to note here are a few moments of empty space and a fairly simple plot structure. However, other strengths include an atypical and honest view of today’s church, and a somewhat unpredictable ending. Therefore, Carlson earns an above average score in this section.
Character Development (4 points)
Carlson’s multi-dimensional characters are the strongest part of this novel. George and Willow are both well-developed because their past has influenced their present tendencies and beliefs. Additionally, Carlson demonstrates a keen understanding of how people with different personalities view the world and respond to their interactions with others. The characters drive the plot and break traditional character molds for a romantic comedy. This is because Carlson avoids the typical love triangle and replaces it with a few moments of real responses that people have to their interpretation of an event, such as anger or hurt. (spoiler) Additionally, her brief parody of the ‘other man/woman’ plot element is much appreciated because the said character has a history of many broken relationships and is therefore imperfect. For these and other reasons, Carlson earns a perfect score in character development.
Creativity & Originality (1 point)
This romantic comedy is filled with eccentric qualities that set it apart from your typical romance tale. Needless to say, it goes down as one of the most refreshing books I have had the privilege to read in some time. Carlson has stepped out in this novel and dared to be different – a fact that leads me to award her a full point in originality. As you may have guessed by now, we here at BOR believe that this would make a great Christian romantic comedy film reminiscent of original comedies such as Altar Egos and Heaven Bound. We believe that the makers of these films, or someone like
Rik Swartzwelder, could bring this book to the big screen and use the different ideas therein to present a movie that could influence church culture for the better. To conclude, great job Ms. Carlson! We look forward to reading more novels like this one!:-)
Wish List Rating: 7.5 out of 10 points