Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. Where Hope Prevails. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2016. See here to buy the book.
Where Hope Prevails is the third book of the “Return to the Canadian West” series. The series is about a privileged city woman, Beth Thatcher, going to the coal mining Canadian West to teach. I read the first two books of the series, and I have watched the first two seasons of the Hallmark Channel TV series that is based on it, entitled When Calls the Heart. I was “meh” towards the first book, loved the second book, and absolutely adored the TV series.
In When Hope Prevails, Beth returns to the Canadian West to teach, and she find that an additional teacher will be instructing the older students. His name is Robert Harris Hughes. He is well-educated, formal, and sophisticated, and he is an atheist. He has an agenda of social engineering, as he wants to try Bertrand Russell’s educational ideas on the rough Canadian West. Beth, a devout Christian, fears the influence that Robert will have on his students.
The main reason I wanted to read this book was to see how this Christian novel would portray the clash in worldviews. And the book did that rather well. While Robert Harris Hughes in the book does put on airs and can be rather tactless, in a sophisticated sort of way, the book does not demonize him. Beth’s love interest Jarrick sees him as a man pursuing wisdom. Molly, whose homespun spiritual wisdom I appreciated in the first book, encourages Beth to love Robert. Molly is unfazed by his atheism, realizing that the Holy Spirit can speak to his heart. Beth and Robert even have a debate about the historicity of the Exodus! The book ended on a rather open-ended note, in terms of Robert’s role in the story. I hope that he is in future books, and even in the TV series.
The book covered other territory as well. Jarrick and Beth are engaged, and Beth’s father has offered Jarrick a job in the city. That would mean that Beth would have to quit teaching, which she is reluctant to do. One of Beth’s students, Marnie, has met someone, and that may mean that Marnie will not pursue a career in teaching, which is what Beth wants for her. There are also the usual sinister interests in the area, pursuing power in corrupt and insidious ways. That affects the visiting schoolteacher, Robert Harris Hughes!
The book covered a lot of territory, and I would have preferred that it focus more on the tension in worldview between Beth and Robert. Still, it was an enjoyable read.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.