Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge and John Ward

Faith and Luke Carraday have it all. Faith is a beautiful singer turned socialite while Luke is an up-and-coming businessman. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, he’s on the fast track as a rising young executive, and Faith is settling comfortably into her role as his wife.

When rumors of the Michovs’ involvement in a Ponzi scheme reach Faith, she turns to Luke for confirmation, and he assures her that all is well. But when Luke is arrested, Faith can’t understand why he would lie to her, and she runs home to the farm and the family she turned her back on years ago. Meanwhile, Luke is forced to turn to his own family for help as he desperately tries to untangle himself from his mistakes. Can two prodigals return to families they abandoned, and will those families find the grace to forgive and forget? Will a marriage survive betrayal when there is nowhere to run but home?

My review:
   This book sounded like a romance, which I usually steer clear of unless it is romantic suspense, but I have come to really enjoy Rene Gutteridge's books, so I decided to review it. The book is meant to be a modern day retelling or portrayal of the Prodigal Son story from the Bible. Both of the main characters in the book, Faith and Luke, have left their families and fallen flat on their faces.

  There isn't much Christianity shown by either Luke and Faith, and even at the end of the book, I wasn't sure if either really professed to be a Christian, but I could definitely see the parallels between their story and the story of the Prodigal Son.

  I enjoyed the book and the message of the book, but did have a couple of issues with it. It was written in the first person point of view from several people's perspective. I would sometimes forget to look to see whose view it was coming from and would have to turn back a page or two. I definitely think the third person point of view would have been better for this book and made it flow better and be easier to read. The other issue: I know there is debate among Christians about alcoholic beverages. I personally am against them, and it seemed in the book and movie both there was more alcohol consumption than needed.

  The book was an interesting and enjoyable read, and it wasn't all about romance. Romance and restoration in a marriage definitely was part of the book, but the book was more about family and prodigals returning and being welcomed back.

  The book is a novelization of the movie by the same name. I was given a copy of the movie along with the book. There are some differences in the book and movie, and if I was going to do just one, I would recommend the movie. It moves a little faster than the book and has a few gaps from the book, but it is easier to follow and is a very enjoyable and clean movie. There were two uses of hell as an expletive, but that was all.

About the authors:
   Rene Gutteridge is the author of eighteen novels, including Listen, the Storm series (Tyndale House Publishers) and Never the Bride, the Boo series, and the Occupational Hazards series from WaterBrook Press. She also released My Life as a Doormat and The Ultimate Gift: The Novelization with Thomas Nelson. Rene is also known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting while earning a mass communications degree, graduating magna cum laude from Oklahoma City University and earning the Excellence in Mass Communication Award. She served as the full-time director of drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writers conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City. Visit her Web site at

John Ward has spent twenty-five years in the film industry as a screenwriter, director, and actor. He recently wrote, directed, and starred in the feature film I AM. He also wrote, produced, and directed the Liquid DVD series for Thomas Nelson. He currently serves as president of Bayridge Films.

Heart of the Country (book) is available from Tyndale Publishers.
The movie is available from Bayridge Films

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy of the book and for the DVD.