Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Lesson in Hope by Philip Gulley

Only Philip Gulley can put a pastor in the kind of predicaments faced by Sam Gardner.  Whether it's family or the members of his meeting, they find ways to confound poor Sam. Gulley's novels about the Quaker pastor are funny, touching, and warm. There's always something Sam, and, by extension, the reader, can learn about life and people, as in the latest book, A Lesson in Hope.

Sam Gardner had only been pastor of Hope Friends Meeting in Indiana for four months when Olive Charles dies. To everyone's amazement, she leaves her entire estate to the Quaker meeting, including her house, a car, and over $800,000. While Sam has dreams, "a fantastical illusion that he might get a raise", his meeting also has ideas. There's talk of a new roof, a new fellowship hall, a new vanity in the women's restroom, a new stove. And, then all that talk turns to squabbles. Maybe the insurance company would pay for the roof if there was hail damage. Who gets the car? Should they negotiate with Olive's niece, who is threatening to sue?

Can it get worse? Of course it can. In just a few days, Sam has to deal with "a hospitalized parishioner, a case of Alzheimer's, and a possible divorce." And, Sam's life continues to go downhill when Thanksgiving rolls around with a visit and surprise announcement from his parents. There are moments when Sam wonders if he made the right move to Hope, despite the pie committee.

Does every meeting and parish have squabbles and eccentric characters? Who knows? But, Philip Gulley always succeeds with stories that incorporate an interesting cast, humor, including some laugh aloud moments, and a lesson about hope, faith and fellowship. A Lesson in Hope is another charming story about a man who continues to be puzzled, and amazed, by people and life.

Philip Gulley's website is

A Lesson in Hope by Philip Gulley. Center Street. 2015. ISBN 9781455519842 (hardcover), 260p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Margie Bunting said...

I absolutely love all all of Gulley's books--comfort food for the soul. I haven't been able to find this one at the library for some reason so I've put it on my wish list for Christmas and will most likely receive it from one of my sons.

Lesa said...

Margie, It's nice that you're providing book suggestions for your sons to purchase. Actually, this book was out in August, and I missed it as well. The publicity must not have been there for this one as it was for previous books.

Margie Bunting said...

I think you are right, Lesa. I didn't have any problem finding A Place Called Hope at the library.

Rosemary said...

Oh this sounds great Lesa. I don't know much about Quakers, but any church I have ever been to has been rife with squabbles!

Did you get the 'Rev' series on TV? It's about an Anglican priest in a poor part of London - it's very funny but also very true to life in my opinion. Madeleine and I enjoyed it a lot.

I've actually just been offered a part-time job in St Mary's Cathedral office here in Edinburgh. Haven't quite made up my mind, but the eccentric characters are the main attraction, I have to admit :)

Mrs. Mac said...

Thanks for the tip on a new-to-me author. By digging around at Amazon, I also found some other similar authors to try.

Lesa said...

Hi Rosemary, No, I haven't seen the "Rev" series. Well, darn. Here, it would have only been on if it was on PBS. Good luck if you decide to take that job. You already know what you might be facing!

Lesa said...

Oh, good, Mrs. Mac! I hope you enjoy the books and authors you found.

Rosemary said...

Lesa - this is it:

As you seem Olivia Coleman is in it, and she and Tom Hollander are both brilliant.

Rosemary said...

'see' not 'seem' - sorry!

Nan said...

Gosh, I think I read a Philip G. book years ago. This sounds really good. Although I don't attend anymore, I was, for years, on the vestry of an Episcopal church, and yes, the congregation had its share of eccentrics! I suppose in any group you would find them, as well as little or big disagreements.