Book Title: Stray Affections
Author: Charlene Ann Baumbich
Publisher’s Synopsis: The last thing that Cassandra Higgins expects out of her Sunday is to be mesmerized at a collectors’ convention by a snowglobe. She’s enjoying some mommy time, with husband Ken at home tending their brood of four young boys, when she’s utterly charmed by the one-of-a kind globe containing figures of three dogs and a little girl with hair the color of her own. She can’t resist taking the unique globe home– even if means wrestling another shopper for it!
The beautiful snowglobe sparks long-dormant memories for Cassie, of her beloved Grandpa Wonky, the stray she rescued as a child, and the painful roots of her combative relationship with her mother, “Bad Betty” Kamrowski. Life in Wanonishaw, Minnesota is never dull, though, and Cassie keeps the recollections at bay, busy balancing her boys, her home daycare operation, and being a good friend to best pal Margret. But after a strange–flurrious, as Cassie deems it–moment happens with the remarkable snowglobe, Cassie and the people she loves are swirled into a tumultuous, yet grace-filled, and life-changing journey.
With the quirky, close-knit Midwestern small-town feel that made Charlene Ann Baumbich’s acclaimed Dearest Dorothy novels so popular, Stray Affections invites you to experience the laughter and the healing of second chances.
This book was refreshingly light hearted and yet handled some very difficult issues at the same time. The characters were genuine, intersting, and the story line somehow ambled along at a pleasant pace and flew by at the same time. Just my favorite kind of story. There are several plots interwoven that give you a perspective on the lives of the principal characters that is unique.
I particularly loved how she drops you into the story full force. My favorite books all begin that way, and I tend to do the same when I write. There was an almost Gaskell-like quality to how you are introduced to characters you were sure you wouldn’t like, but learn to respect and even love as the story progresses. I felt a kinship with her mother “Bad Betty” and at first, I was bothered by it. Once I read more, I couldn’t help but nod as I read. I understood her.
Mrs. Baumbich writes with humor, insight, and creates characters that you easily identify with– even feel as though you know them. She wrote consistently and didn’t allow herself to get lazy. Even minor characters were exceptionally realistic.
At first, it was a little difficult to allow myself to enter the world of her past. I wanted to go forward, read more about the main character’s friends, get to know her husband better (I think he reminds me a little of my Kevin), and see the now. However, once I adjusted (and I don’t know if it’s the writing style or my state of mind when I got to that part), the back story blended brilliantly with the now and you saw the turmoil come together into one amazingly healing picture. This is the kind of Christian fiction that subtly teaches you something, but you don’t realize it until you get to the end and reflect upon what you’ve learned.
The book was charming, heart warming, and heartwrenching all at the same time. I highly recommend it if you enjoy writing that makes you laugh, sigh, and you walk away from with a deeper understanding of human relationships– but may never realize that you did. It’s gentle in its teaching. I love that about it. She wrote a story that somehow took the idea of preaching without words and used words to show actions that preach.
I have one copy to give away. It got a bit scuffed while I read it, but it’s still in very good condition (just not gift-giving condition!). I’ll try to draw at the end of next week so leave a comment if you’d like one!