Publication date: March 13, 2016
Number of pages: 314
Growing up, life is idyllic for Lily Rose Cates due to her one constant – her father’s love. But in her sixteenth summer, all that changes without warning with her father’s sudden death. There begins Lily’s struggle to find herself and a life she thinks is gone forever.
Marriage to her prince charming promises fulfillment, but their happily-ever-after barely survives the honeymoon. Beneath the sophisticated façade lies a brooding man who hides dark secrets. When all Lily’s illusions of happiness shatter, she must make hard choices – abandon her husband or risk losing much more than her marriage. She flees their home in Detroit and sets out on a fearful journey to a house in Georgia that her husband knows nothing about. . . .
In spite of heartbreak and regrets, will she find the strength to survive whatever comes? Or will her husband find her and shatter all her hopes . . . again. This is one woman’s compelling tale of love and survival as she finds her way back home to faith and who she’s meant to be . . . in her father’s house.
1. Writing the story was a process of discovery. More than once an unplanned element burst onto the page.
2. Memories from my own life and travels informed the settings in the story.
3. I explored small towns in order to create my own.
4. While poking around a small town, I spied an old DeSoto in a ramble shack car shelter.
5. The novel was four years in the making. I put the manuscript away for a year when writing the story reopened some old wounds.
6. I laughed out loud writing parts of the story.
7. I always wanted to travel cross country in a big rig. I’ve never had the opportunity, so I gave one of my characters the ride I never had. YouTube videos were a go-to resource.
8. My Aunt Frances and Grandma Bronnie were front “porch dwellers”, who offered kindly words of wisdom while we spent many a serene hour rocking on the porch and sipping sweet iced tea.
9. My daddy had a trunk from his WWII days, and he loved to tell stories about his childhood, just like Lily Rose’s daddy.
10. In the South, hospitable folks always offer guests a glass of sweet tea. So, you’ll see lots of it being served in My Father’s House.
“You’re gonna be all right, Lily Rose.”
My Father’s House by Rose Chandler Johnson is captivating in its Southern gentility. Words lilt across the page, iced with a Georgia drawl that makes you wish for a wraparound porch and a tall cool glass of lemonade. (I had neither the porch nor the lemonade at hand, but I made do.)
Family beats at the heart of My Father’s House – those we’re born into and those we gather around us. In Lily Rose Cate’s case, it’s the family she’s gathered around her that makes for the most compelling characters. Annie Ruth, Sugar, Aunt Mae, Julie, Sam. Each are brimming with quiet wisdom and personalities you want to hug. With lines like “There ain’t no roads back to yesterday”, Annie Ruth was my favorite character of the bunch!
Lily Cate herself is young and almost painfully naive and quite often I found myself shaking my head at her. But like most Southern gently-bred women, she is made of stronger stuff than she appears to be at first glance. Though she makes some rash decisions at the beginning – and then some decisions I didn’t quite understand in the middle – the fact remains that she’s a survivor. She had the courage to get help when she needed it, and she knew where to go to find safety.
Side note: This book will make you hungry for some good completely-unhealthy Southern food. I’m just sayin’.
Bottom Line: Southern fiction meets domestic drama meets a coming of age story in Rose Chandler Johnson’s debut novel, My Father’s House. Johnson has a gift for setting, and each scene leaps vibrantly off the page. At times the prose takes on an almost memoir-quality, as though Lily Rose herself is sitting in a rocking chair next to you on the front porch, recounting the events in her smooth Georgia drawl. In fact, I was already thinking along these lines when I came across this statement from Lily Rose in reply to Sam’s question about whether the novel she’s writing is autobiographical: “Not in actual events… but maybe the themes… the themes are similar.”
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
Reviewer’s Note: I would classify this novel as Christian fiction. That said, there are a very few instances of profanity, some uses of God’s name in a non-reverent manner, and the addressing of more mature themes such as domestic abuse and spousal rape. These themes are part of Lily Rose’s story and are handled frankly but with grace.
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