Title: The Splendor of Ordinary Days by Jeff High
Watervalley Series Book Three
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author
Readers of Jan Karon’s Mitford series and Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country series will fall in love with Jeff High’s funny, heartfelt Watervalley series.
The pastoral charm of small-town Watervalley, Tennesse, can be deceptive, as young Dr. Luke Bradford discovers when he’s caught in the fallout of a decades-old conflict…
After a rocky start as Watervalley’s only doctor, Luke Bradford has decided to stay in town, honoring the three-year commitment he made to pay off his medical school debts. But even as his friendships with the quirky townsfolk deepen, and he pursues a romance with lovely schoolteacher Christine Chambers, several military veterans’ emotional wounds trigger anger and unrest in Watervalley.
At the center of the clash is the curmudgeonly publisher of the local newspaper, Luther Whitmore. Luther grew up in Watervalley, but he returned from combat in Vietnam a changed man. He fenced in beautiful Moon Lake, posting “Keep Out” notices at the beloved spot, and provokes the townspeople with his incendiary newspaper.
As Luke struggles to understand Luther’s past, and restore harmony in Watervalley, an unforeseen crisis shatters a relationship he values dearly. Suddenly Luke must answer life’s toughest questions about service, courage, love, and sacrifice.
The Splendor of Ordinary Days is another captivating addition to Jeff High’s Watervalley series starring Dr. Luke Bradford. With a cast of delightfully quirky but caring characters, this charming story is incredibly heartwarming with a poignant storyline that will tug at the reader’s heartstrings.
Although he still yearns for the anonymity of a large town and a career in medical research, Luke is pretty firmly entrenched in Watervalley. His medical practice is thriving, he has forged close friendships with many of the townspeople and he is deeply in love with elementary school teacher Christine Chambers. The only things Luke is still struggling to make peace with are the small town gossip and the residents’ well-meaning but intrusive prying into his personal life. Keeping secrets in the small rural town is difficult but not impossible and when local veteran Clayton Ross has a run in with Mennonite Levi Beiler, tension and resentment from unhealed wounds from the past spill into the present.
Luke never intended to become so involved in his patients lives but living in a small town makes it impossible for him to hold them at arms’ length. He is also quite caring and compassionate and he makes a practice of treating the whole person, not just their symptoms. Luke makes a concerted effort to look beneath the surface and when he is most frustrated by someone’s actions, he takes the time to ask questions about that person’s life, including both their past and present.
In this outing, Luke finds himself wondering about newspaper owner Luther Whitmore’s surprisingly biased reporting of a fire involving the local Mennonite community. While Luther is rather unpleasant, unfriendly and cantankerous, his reporting of the local news has always been impartial and fair so Luke is determined to understand what prompted the antagonist news article. The answers lie in Luther’s childhood friendship with the Yoder family and the series of events that occurred right before he shipped out to Vietnam. Luke has an uncanny ability to smooth over difficult situations but can he work his magic on the irascible Vietnam veteran?
In between treating patients and trying to get to the bottom of the situation with Luther, Luke’s relationship with Christine is about to enter a new phase. Having finally confessed his feeling to her, their romance has deepened but will an unexpected crisis jeopardize their plans for the future?
Written in first person from Luke’s point of view, The Splendor of Ordinary Days is an incredibly well-written novel with an engaging storyline. The characters are vibrantly developed with realistic foibles and human frailties but these characteristics are what make them feel like real people. The town and surrounding area are quite picturesque and the rural setting perfectly showcases the decidedly slower pace of life and traditional values that make the Watervalley series so appealing. Once again, Jeff High brings readers a refreshing story of compassion, love, healing and forgiveness that will touch their hearts and remain with them long after the last page is turned.