- Title: Bless Your Heart, Rae Sutton
- Author: Susannah B. Lewis
- Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
- Genre: Humor, Southern Fiction, Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction
- Would I recommend: YES.
Sometimes what your life is missing is an eccentric group of older ladies to take you under their wing . . .
When Raeley Ann Sutton’s mama passes away and leaves her the house where she grew up, Rae can’t imagine how the little old place might restore her broken life. Mourning the recent loss of her marriage, she takes the house and settles back in tiny, “one-horse Whitten” with her fourteen-year-old daughter, Molly Margaret, and their overweight dog.
There she’s embraced by her mother’s close-knit circle of friends, the Third Thursday ladies: Mrs. Fannie, Mrs. Dora, and Aunt Maxine. Though almost half their age and far less confident of positive outcomes, Rae joins their ministry-slash-book-club-slash-gossip circle and allows the women to speak wry honesty and witty humor into her tired heart. As a new career and a new romance bring their own complications, Rae relies on the unlikely family she’s found and begins to wonder if her future holds more hope than she ever could have imagined.
Known for her heartwarming stories and genuine Southern voice, Susannah B. Lewis dazzles with her latest story of women strengthening women.
“Settle in for an enchanting tale, featuring a delightful cast of characters. At turns humorous and heart-wrenching, Lewis’s novel delivers on themes of forgiveness and restoration. Wise, witty, and full of Southern charm, Bless Your Heart, Rea Sutton is as refreshing as a tall glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day!” —Denise Hunter, bestselling author of the Riverbend Romances
Let me just say this right up front: I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!
I’ve read Susannah B. Lewis’s non-fiction before (How May I Offend You Today? and Can’t Make This Stuff Up are both hilarious and thought-provoking and must-reads in my book), but this is the first of her fictions works that I’ve read. I’ve got to go back and read some of her other fiction books now.
Raeley Ann Sutton, or Rae, has a lot on her plate. Her ex-husband, Carter, divorced her for some pretty young thing (although Rae never had the heart to tell her mama why Carter really left), and now her mama has passed away and left her the small house she grew up in. Is moving back to Whitten, Alabama really the right thing?
Lewis tells her story with her trademark Southern wit and wisdom, and that just brings me right back to my childhood. When talking about the meal after the funeral, Aunt Maxine tells Rae, “Dora is bringing chicken. Lena will bring a dessert. She’ll pass it off in her own Tupperware, but it will be storebought. The woman can’t boil water. Bless her heart.” How many of us who grew up in the South haven’t heard something along those lines?
Rae’s story may not be exactly like mine or yours, but it rings true for all of us. How many of us have been left gobsmacked by life’s disappointments, wondering if anyone got the license plate of the truck that just hit us? How many of us have felt like hope is distant and God surely must have given up listening to our prayers, because we can’t see a thing that He’s doing to improve the situation? Rae struggles to find the faith she grew up in, and the Third Thursday ladies and their “ministry” (where, “for an hour each month, they laughed, gossiped, reminisced about days gone by, and solved all the problems in Whitten, Alabama”) point her in the right direction. She hears their stories of their own struggles, she sees their hearts for helping others as they have the ability to do so, and she realizes that she can’t – and doesn’t have to – carry her hurt on her own. As Rae says, “Iron sharpens iron, and they had certainly sharpened me.”
And this particular quote, from a letter that Rae’s mother left for her to find, really struck me: “Appreciate the good and even the bad, Rae. Cherish the valley, because that is where you find the strength to reach the mountaintop.” What a wonderful reminder for Rae from her mama, and what a wonderful truth for me to hang onto, tucked away into a really good book.
This book is a delight. I’d like to have my own group of Third Thursday ladies now. If you love a wonderfully told story set in a small Southern town, filled with characters you feel like you know (or might be kin to), brimming with love and faith and redemption, you need to read Bless Your Heart, Rae Sutton. Don’t wait. Go get it now, and enjoy. You can thank me later.
Disclaimer: I was provided an advance review copy of this book by the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.