Book Review: Fanny’s Hope Chest by Sarah Holman

Good morning, Readers! Today’s book review covers a book that I read a few weeks ago, and which I have sat with the contents of ever since. It’s one of those right-time books; it won’t be for everyone or be a perfect fit for someone in every stage of their life, but for me and this summer, it’s just right. This is Christian fiction done right. You can’t breeze this one without actually thinking about what it has to say, but it also doesn’t get bogged down in deep concepts or theological gymnastics. It’s simple and hopeful and compassionate – reading this book is like talking to a friend. I highly enjoyed it, and I hope that if this discussion resonates with you that you will give it a try and hopefully enjoy it, too.

About the Book

Fanny's Hope Chest

Title: Fanny’s Hope Chest

Author: Sarah Holman

Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction Novella

Synopsis: How old is too old for a hope chest?

When Ellie starts a new job as a home health aid, she doesn’t expect to meet a woman in her eighties looking for her hope chest, nor a house as messy as Ellie’s own emotional state. But as she cleans up Fanny’s house, she begins to wonder if Fanny’s hope chest might hold the answers to her questions about disappointed dreams and holding on to hope.

That is, if she can face both the mess and her own heart.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My Thoughts

There are a lot of things to like about Fanny’s Hope Chest, as long as you’re willing to sit through a decent amount of introspection and overrun emotions. To be fair, the protagonist tends to read like the inside of my brain. Ellie is sweet and caring and sure of what she wants in life – but she’s also disappointed that she hasn’t fallen in love and gotten married yet at 32. Like me, Ellie was raised in a loving conservative Christian home, and domesticity is her legitimate dream. It’s not a dream that she can force though and her patience is starting to run thin. Throughout the book, her new home care client, Fanny, shows her that sometimes the dreams we hold are worthwhile and beautiful even when they remain unfulfilled.

As the title implies, this is a story about hope. It’s also about faith, peace, and continuing to work diligently when you would rather give up. I loved the way this book looks at Fanny’s expectations of a relationship and, by extension, her plans for life as a whole. This is a book for those who are in a time of change, or realizing life isn’t going the way you thought it would; this book is a gently reminder that we never truly know what will happen in the future, and that’s okay.

Some parts of this book are more straightforward than I sometimes prefer – there’s an enjoyment in reading between the lines and parsing out well-done symbolism, for instance – but it works. This is a short novella, which I also appreciated because as much as I empathized with Ellie, I was glad that we didn’t have to see any more of her frustration. The author does a good job of showing how Ellie feels without an unnecessary amount of whining, but there were still small sections where I skimmed.

The ultimate twist on the concept of a hope chest is very nice. I wasn’t sure where this was going until the end, and it turned out better than I could have hoped. It’s encouraging, practical, and yet leaves room for intangible dreams.

The Verdict

Overall, I greatly enjoyed Fanny’s Hope Chest. I was a little skeptical going in about reading a book about a character who is discontent with being single, but this ended up being a beautiful examination of unfulfilled dreams and living out your faith honestly and gently. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys Christian fiction and happily rate it four stars.

For a similar work, check out Wedding Score by Amanda Tero. You can read my review of it here and find it on Goodreads here.

Are you reading anything good this weekend? My tbr list may be overflowing, but I always love to hear about the books y’all are enjoying, too!

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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