Small town. Tea. Lost love. What’s not to like?
Anita Higman’s A Marriage in Middlebury is a sweet romance full of all the elements that make me sigh at a good romantic comedy. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for my review.)
First, there’s the likable, down-to-earth heroine. Charlotte Hill is the owner of Middlebury’s tea room, where she serves her customers with grace, humor and compassion, uniquely blending teas to fit their personalities. She’s a friend to all, including a young boy with a troubled family. She’d love to have a family of her own, but that ship sailed more than a decade earlier, when her high school love Sam asked her to marry him and she turned him down. Charlotte is delightful, the kind of heroine you think would be your friend, like Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping or Julia Roberts in just about anything.
Then there’s Sam Wilder, the gone-but-not-forgotten love who returns to Middlebury with a fiancée in tow. He’s not the hunky hero of some stories, but he, too, is a likable character. Think Bill Pullman. (For some reason I want to compare this book to While You Were Sleeping.) He’s caring and dependable and dedicated. You can almost see the chemistry between these two on the pages of the book. (I’m not always a fan of books-become-movies but I secretly wouldn’t mind seeing this one on the screen.)
The story is full of colorful side characters, too. There’s the old man atheist who winds up at Easter dinner with a room full of Christians. The mysterious homeless man who is good with plants. The single pastor being set up on blind dates by his parishioners. And the antique dealer who acts first and thinks later but with good intentions.
If that’s not enough to sell this book as a must-read, then consider the writing. In the first book I read by Higman, I was blown away by her use of metaphors. It holds true for this book, too. There’s a casual, friendly style to her writing but it’s full of spiritual insight without feeling forced. Higman’s insights about life and faith flow naturally through the story. I love reading what she writes.