Book Review: Back Home Again

Tales From Grace Chapel Inn (Book 1)

by Melody Carlson

Guideposts, 2006

The Howard sisters, now in their fifties and sixties, are back together in the small town of Acorn Hill following the death of their father.

  • The oldest sister, Louise, is now a widow. She has been rattling around in her Philadelphia home now that her husband and daughter are gone. Louise is a gifted pianist who gives piano lessons, primarily to children.
  • Alice is a registered  nurse in Acorn Hill who has been living at home with her father. (Their mother died decades earlier.)
  • Jane, the youngest sister, is an accomplished chef in San Francisco. She’s at loose ends since her very painful divorce.

The sisters have inherited equally the big old family house. It’s actually a beautiful, historic home. All it needs is a new roof, new paint (inside and out) and a whole list of items for refurbishment. As the sisters take a few weeks to decide what to do with the house, they realize how much they have missed being with each other, even though they don’t always agree on everything.

Once Alice shares her dream of turning the house into a bed and breakfast, everything comes together for the three women. Louise and Jane agree to relocate back to their home town. The three pool their resources and set about planning the renovation of the house. The rest of the book is the story of their progress in achieving that goal.

There are lots of challenges during this restoration project. Some of them are handyman issues, some a matter of personal taste, and some involve local residents who have their own ideas of what the sisters should do or not do with the building everyone calls Grace Chapel House.

I bought this book because I thought it would be something my 90-year-old mother would enjoy. And, she will. I knew, because the publisher is Guideposts, that it would be Christian-based but not overly preachy. The pace is slow enough that Mom will be able to spend hours and hours with the book. That’s many hours of reading enjoyment. This daughter, however, lost patience with the slowness and, after the first half, skipped quickly through the rest of the book.

There are 47 books (and counting) in this series. If my mother likes this one, I’ve hit the mother lode of books for her. I found the list at, if you are interested. Something you may want to keep in mind for Mother’s Day.

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10 Responses to Book Review: Back Home Again

  1. I think both you and your mother would enjoy The Euthanasia Society book – really!

  2. Stacy says:

    47 books?!! Yikes.
    It looks appealing, we’ve thought of opening a B&B with my parents, but if you thought it was too slow I’ll take that as my cue that I probably would too.

  3. Belle says:

    I like the premise of sisters coming together to open a B&B, although I suspect I’d be like you – I do need my books to have a quicker pace.

  4. Staci says:

    I love that your getting this for your mother!!! I would love to run my own B&B, but I would really need to have someone who knew how to cook!!!

  5. I read this one for many of the same reasons you chose it, plus the fact that I there are three sisters in my family, so it sounded extra funny to me. But I also thought the pace was slow and didn’t read any further in the series, but I’m sure your mom will love it.

  6. Bumbles says:

    Woah. Back.Up.The.Bus. 47 books in one series??? And this is the first one – and you felt it was slow going? Egads. I thought your plot description sounded quite lovely actually – but whether I liked it or not, I am not dedicated enough to spend that much time with one set of characters and their world.

    As for a B&B – that is a full time job. We have stayed in several through the years and it is no part-time picnic for the owners – unless they have the funds to hire a full-time staff to do all the work – and when that happens, you lose the whole feel and draw of a B&B to begin with. I would liken it to being a stay-at-home-mom to a never-ending stream of kids – many of whom will be ungrateful. But you keep trying because you love it, not because it pays well.

  7. JoAnn says:

    I love to pick out books for my mother, too! She jokes that I’ve become her personal librarian. Last week she loved The Forgotten Garden so much, I went right back to the library and brought her The House at Riverton. Not sure about a series of 47 though 🙂

  8. Mystica says:

    I like the idea of the three sisters coming together like this. Sounds a lovely story

  9. Beth F says:

    I don’t generally read faith-based books, but this sounds perfect for your mom.

  10. Ruth Rogers says:

    I too get books for my mother–usually on loan from the the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library. That’s where I first discovered this series. They have a few of these books, but it looks like I may have to buy the rest of the series. We both are enjoying the slow pace for a change–it’s relaxing. I find that they flow nicely, and I read very fast. One evening after work will finish one up for me.

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