Life is full of challenges and disappointments. In SATURDAY MORNING, the reader encounters four women who are in completely different places in their lives. Like a fine weaver, Lauraine Snelling slowly spins the stories of these individuals until they come together in a beautiful tapestry. On the graphic of a price tag, each chapter includes the name of the viewpoint character of that particular section.
The book opens with Andy Taylor, who has taken up the hobby of creating products with lavender plants in Medford, Oregon and parlayed the family farm into a booming home business. An empty-nester with her three children in college, Andy's parents live nearby and help plant, harvest and package the raw materials for the business named Lavender Meadows. Andy's husband, Martin, is a business executive who travels a great deal. Over the years, the couple has drifted apart and created separate lives. Almost unaware of the satisfaction Andy receives from her growing business, Martin arrives and announces that the company has offered him the dream job of a Vice President position. It means that he can get off the road and stay home --- but with this promotion, the Taylors are required to live near company headquarters in San Francisco. Furious at Martin's insensitivity about her needs in Oregon, Andy compromises and suggests they have one home in San Francisco and one in Medford.
Several chapters later, readers meet Julia Collins, a successful trial lawyer from Kansas City. Initially Julia appears hardworking yet problem-free. As the story unfolds, however, Julia has a communication struggle with her daughter, Donna. For a while, Donna's daughter Cyndy lived with Julia. But the young girl didn't like her grandmother's rules, so she returned to her mother. In a phone call to her daughter, Julia learns that Cyndy has left home and is headed to California. Hiring a private investigator, Cyndy's trail leads to San Francisco. Julia takes a sabbatical from her legal work and tries to personally locate Cyndy.
Hope Benson runs J House, a shelter for women. Life is always full at the shelter for Hope and her former policeman husband, Roger. Born in Jamaica, Hope runs her ministry on a shoestring that borders on financial collapse. Living with many unfulfilled wishes, which Hope calls "if onlys," her life suddenly takes a dramatic turn. Thinking she has some terrible illness because of her symptoms, Hope sees a nearby clinic doctor and learns the impossible has happened. Previously, this doctor had told Hope that she couldn't get pregnant. Now, Hope discovers she's pregnant with her first child! With the busy lifestyle of J House, a difficult pregnancy makes it even more complex for Hope.
About a third into the book, readers meet the fourth woman, Clarice Van Dam, who lives in Tampa, Florida. After the death of her husband, Herbert, Clarice falls in love with a much younger man, Gregor, who has taken over her life. They pack everything and plan to move into an apartment in San Francisco. Gregor kisses Clarice and sends her ahead while he completes some details. Because she's never been to San Francisco, Clarice carries an envelope with detailed instructions and a key from Gregor. Readers can feel the tension and almost guess what is going to happen to Clarice, hoping it will not occur. She arrives in San Francisco and makes her way to the apartment building, yet her key doesn't work. There is no apartment reservation. Her credit cards don't work, and Clarice discovers that her year-long marriage to Gregor was a complete scam. On the street without money, Clarice is directed to J House, and the threads of the book begin to weave together.
I found that these four viewpoints combine interesting characters with complex problems to be solved. Lauraine Snelling has written a masterpiece that makes ideal reading. The overall stories emphasize the power of prayer and friendship to change lives. I recommend this novel as a great encouragement to anyone.
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on September 20, 2005