Strangers find kindness and friends are united in these nine short stories that look at the positive power of nature.
As Heiss points out, gazing at a painting of nature can boost one’s morale and relieve stress. To that end, the author has paired original paintings and colorful (albeit stock) photos of mountains, wooded paths, and lush gardens with a series of happy-ending stories. In “Spello Flower Festival,” for instance, an adopted woman goes to Italy and finds the spirit of her ancestors in an act of kindness. A homeless family asks to weather a storm with a recent widow in “The Old Red Barn” only to find that she may be able to offer more than just shelter, which gives her a much-needed sense of purpose. Nursing homes and the elderly appear in a few stories, such as “The Rainbow Boots,” in which a resident moves her puzzle-solving to the foyer in order to better engage with visitors that come through the doors. Other tales attempt to strike out into historical-fiction territory, such as “The Blue Shutters,” a clichéd portrait of a runaway slave family relying on the kindness of others to bring them to freedom. Overall, the collection is certainly palatable, with a Hallmark card–style sentiment in every mild plot and pleasant conclusion. A few clever and heartwarming twists stand out above the rest, as in “Rimi Rock,” in which two strangers communicate with clues on a beach until they finally find each other, and “The Bridal Path,” in which one bride’s heartbreak is another’s dream come true. The bright photographs and simple paintings serve as vibrant bookends to each positive story. The prose isn’t particularly notable (“Silently, a tear drifted down her cheek”), but if delivering hope and cheer into people’s lives is its goal, it makes an earnest effort.
Sentimental, vividly illustrated tales meant to calm and inspire.