22 March 2013

Scent of Lilacs by Ann H. Gabhart, Book review

Publisher: Revell (May 1, 2005)
ISBN-13: 978-0800730802


Before Ann H. Gabhart became well-known for her much-loved Shaker novels, she wrote three poignant novels centered on the loveable Jocie Brooke and her family, who lived in 1960s small-town Kentucky. Once named as one of Booklist's Top Ten Christian Novels and now featuring a brand new cover, Scent of Lilacs is poised to capture the hearts of new readers everywhere. Life-changing events rarely happen here, and when they do, they are few and far between. But for Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once. Jocie has questions that need answers. As she digs into her family's past, she finds a whirlwind of discoveries, and everything begins to change. In the end, will Jocie find the answers everyone so desperately needs, or will her questions lead to truths that were better left uncovered?

Combining unforgettable characters, true-to-life struggles, and the perfect dose of humor and nostalgia, this riveting story takes readers through the universal experiences of true love, new life, and renewed faith. With a beautiful new cover, Scent of Lilacs is poised to capture the hearts of readers everywhere.

My thoughts:

There is an air of Mayberry RFD in 'Scent of Lilacs', a warm feeling of a rural America yet untouched by social upheavals, streets protests, political slayings and racial riots.
Substitute Preacher David, also Editor of the Hollyhock Banner, for the Sheriff and think of Josie as another Opie and you get the same sense of wholesomeness but don't be fooled: there is more than meets the eye in Ann H. Gabhart's tale! 

Like all good stoytellers, Ann weaves an unforgetable plot set in the summer of 64 around colourful characters who face daily challenges like any of us. She brings us a bit of nostalgia sprinkled with zazzy humour and a reminder that God is never far!

For some Jocie and her 13th summer will be a reminder of days gone by, a time when Elvis and his famous rock n' roll enticed anyone to swing their hips, when lacquered hairstyles were tantamount of beehives, young people joined communes and peace was a sign for a growing group of flower children. 'Groovy' and 'Dude' became part of the American vocabulary and the Space program was in its infancy.

With an eye for details, Ann Gabhart tells us of Jocie's twenty year old sister Tabitha, who ran away to California years before with their Mum, only to come back because there is nowhere for her to go. Tabitha you will soon discover has a secret. 
And she is not the only one: my favourite character is Aunt Love, whom one could compare of course to matronly Aunt Mae, only she is forever forgetting something such as the biscuits baking or the bacon cooking...That said, her mind is at its sharpest when quoting the Bible. In that instance, the elderly aunt could give a running to her nephew the Preacher! 

David Brooke is the quintessential middle age man who discover it is perhaps not too late for a little romance in his life. A small town preacher cum newspaper editor, David has always strived to be a good father/nephew/friend and pastor to all but when secrets reveal themselves, he must find the right words to balance a world suddenly spinning out of control and trust the Lord will stand by them!

5 stars!

“Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

About the Author:

Ann H. Gabhart started writing when she was ten and has been writing ever since. Her first published writings were personal experience pieces, youth stories, and poems in church periodicals such as HomeLife. Her first novel, a historical romance about the settling of Kentucky, was published by Warner Books in 1978. Since then, she's published numerous books for both adults and young adults. The Scent of Lilacs, her first inspirational novel, was chosen as one of the Top Ten Books in Christian Fiction in 2006 by Booklist magazine. Her first Shaker book, The Outsider, was a finalist for Christian Fiction Book of the Year in 2009 and was a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine.

For more on this author, visit her website (HERE) and One Writer's Journal (HERE).

Note to Readers:

To celebrate GRANDMOTHERS Ann has a lovely GIVEAWAY going at this time!
For those of you interested in details on how to participate, stop by her blog and place a comment on her 'Grandmothers' post!
(And whilst you are visiting tell her she is in your thoughts and prayers as this week has given her a challenge or two!)


I received this book free from BAKER REVELL as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 


  1. It seemed 'foreign' to me who did not know jeans and Keds as I wore a uniform (Ursulines!) yet it symbolized my idea of the All American teenager and that's when it occured to me I knew a little of that period since I saw the Andy Griffith's show at a neighbour! A good story Mystica!

  2. I'm reading your book reviews tonight and making a list of what I want to read! Thank you SO much! Enjoy your weekend! Sweet hugs!

  3. This one will make a good read for an afternoon or evening Diane!
    I try to be eclectic in my choices but ultimately, I return to Christian material with strong historical notes. Like you I keep a list (Mystica inspires me as she well know) and enjoy a book for its entertainment first and foremost.
    I do not give less than 3 stars if I can help it as I respect the time and effort put in shaping a novel but you may be sure that a 3 stars means I did not enjoy it!


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