mary's book basket ~ "joy in the ordinary" by theresa fisher

I had heard about "Joy in the Ordinary" by Theresa Fisher through many a blog. Several of my friends had read it and enjoyed it and it was being recommended all over FB. Now mind you, I have a HUGE stack of books to read and I didn't feel called to purchase another before reading the ones I dusted off each week.

But after one friend wrote how beautifully written the book was and how it made her stop and appreciate where she was in her "ordinary life" I knew I needed to pick up a copy. It sat for a week after it arrived in the mail and then one rainy day, I picked it up.

I picked it up...and I couldn't put it down. It is a rare thing for me to stay up into the wee hours of the morning to finish a book, but I did with this one.  "Joy in the Ordinary" by Theresa Fisher was an absolute joy to read. As a non-published inspirational romance writer and avid reader I have read thousands of books in the course of my adult life. Every kind of romance you can imagine, form sweet to tawdry (sorry Mom) and this lovely read is now snuggled on my keeper shelf between "The Help" and "The Notebook" two books that speak to my heart and I could read again and agin and learn something new.

"Joy in the Ordinary" tells the story of Joyce "Joy" Barrett, who decides to make a huge change in her life.  She has spent ten months in formation in a convent convinced this is where the Lord had lead her. But with the date of her final vows closing in, she has a change of heart questioning that maybe this isn't where she is supposed to be. To her dismay, her Mother Superior agrees and she leaves the safety and sanctuary of the convent to return to civilian life.

But what does she do now? Where does she go? What does God have in store for her now that she's not supposed to be a Bride of Christ? What man would ever measure up to Jesus?

The inner conflict that Ms. Fisher lays out in her heroine is a common one that all believers face in life. What is our purpose here? What does God need me to do? If I am not supposed to do what I had thought, then what happens next? How did I end up here?

I was drawn in from the prologue wondering what choices Joy would make and where this new path would lead her. As the story progresses, outer conflict arises and Joy stumbles a few times as she seeks a new beginning. Enter our hero, Dominic Gray. Tall dark and handsome? Why yes, but also a character of great faith, compassion and determination. He is the kind of hero every inspirational reader dreams of...a man of character and strength without all the false bravado I see time and time again in main stream romance novels.

As Fisher lays out the story, weaving a rich tapestry of setting and a hilarious supporting cast of characters, I was drawn deeper into the hero and the heroines friendship. It unfolds beautifully and organically. The author takes her time building to the big black moment and when it finally arrived, I held my breath to see what would happen. The payoff was perfect. A simple and powerful celebration of the "extraordinary" in the ordinary course of a love story.

There are some wonderful scenes in the book that made me laugh and cry. There is an Irish Pub filled with a wonderful supporting cast as well as a spiritual journey that compliments the romantic one.

There is also an underlying theme that I fully embrace in my day to day life. To live an "ordinary" life of marriage and family in this world, is an "extraordinary" thing. To remain married to the same spouse for decades and raise a family is an "extraordinary" thing that is devalued in today's society. I praise Ms. Fisher for her beguiling yet realistic tale.

This book is everything I love about inspirational novels. The sexual tension is there between our hero and heroine, without bowling you over. Their is attraction and curiosity balanced with a healthy dose of trepidation. It's written as a true to life relationship. I love that. I identified with the emotional and spiritual journey of both the heroine and the hero.

My favorite line from the book appears toward the end. Joyce is pondering where her journey has taken her and in a moment of introspection she ponders:
"Roads. Paths. Mine led me where I didn't want to go, and now that I'm here I don't want anything else. How did this happen?"(pg 286)

AMEN! That is the story of my own life and many of those who read this blog. Thanks you Ms. Fisher for sharing the gift of your story with us. Now, when can we expect a sequel or another wonderful book?? I can't wait!!

This book receives:
5 CUPCAKES = I feel like celebrating for the joyously awesome fabulously wonderful read and it will remain on my keeper shelf