In this debut novel, coincidence brings people together to form an accidental family centered on an old woman’s farmhouse.
Somewhere in mountainous Northeastern America stands a farmhouse owned by Mrs. Edith Bradley, but most people call her Aunt Edith. Blind and elderly, she manages well with the help of Russell Mayhew, her handyman. But one stormy night, a hurricane sends a tree crashing onto the roof, unheard by Russell; Aunt Edith is trapped. At the same time, Samantha Anne Matthews—called Sam—arrives at the farmhouse. Having just broken up with her fiance and quit her job, she was on her way to a solo camping vacation, but her car went off the storm-crumbled roadway. Sam calls a doctor for Aunt Edith, who has a broken leg, and when he asks Sam to stay and provide moral support, she agrees. Russell decides to restart his construction company; with Sam’s background in advertising, she can help there too. Also showing up at the farmhouse are Abigail Winters, a woman running from her abusive husband, and her half brother, Dr. Jeffery Dale Barlow, who has tracked Abbi down to tell her that her spouse was killed in an accident. They, too, stick around. A series of coincidences brings to town yet more characters, including Edith’s grandson William Bradley Brackston and Sam’s roommate, Melissa, and everyone gets partnered with fulfilling work and romance. Together they form an extended family whose linchpin becomes Edith, now called Granny Edie. Barring a dramatic episode on a cruise ship, where Edith is kidnapped and leaves an SOS message stitched into a baby blanket, Apelt’s novel consists almost entirely of people making plans. Working out the logistics for Russell’s construction company, Abbi’s costume-sewing business, repairs and renovations to the farmhouse—every detail is described with relish and at length. Those without a taste for project management will likely find little to engage them. Coincidence is the main plot engine, ensuring that things fall conveniently into place. Some readers may agree with Granny that this “is surely a sign from God that He truly is the Master Planner,” and enjoy the way everything fits; others may find all the easy resolutions and conflict-free family life to be unsatisfying.
This placid tale about strangers converging on a farmhouse celebrates the joy of planning.