Book Information – The Red Door Inn
Author – Liz Johnson
Reading Challenge book? No.
I like – or even love – a lot of the books I encounter. However, with some, the dream just doesn’t match the reality. Unfortunately, that was the case for me with The Red Door Inn. I really wanted to enjoy this novel, but it just didn’t come together and gel well for me.
I picked this book up at first because of its Prince Edward Island setting. I love L.M. Montgomery’s books and stories, and I was curious to see the place through a modern author’s eyes. And in this respect, Johnson did deliver. Not surprisingly, there is more to Prince Edward Island than Anne of Green Gables, and I enjoyed learning more about the traditions of the place and some of the real difficulties of life there. If I ever make it up to PEI, I’m sure I will spend plenty of time daydreaming about favorite characters, but this novel outlined some of the natural beauty, folk art and other draws of the place as well.
So, what exactly is this book all about? Well, as the novel opens, we meet Marie Carrington. She’s completely broke but determined to get to the island. Luckily, she encounters a kindly older man named Jack Sloane who helps pay her way across. She finds herself a job decorating Mr. Sloane’s soon-to-open B&B. When the two arrive at the inn, Jack’s nephew Seth Sloane is there as well. Well aware of his uncle’s trusting good nature, Seth is immediately suspicious of the lovely Marie. He figures she is a con artist who spotted Jack as an easy mark.
So begins a cycle of Marie feeling inadequate, and Seth softening a big, then Marie shining as a decorator, then arousing Seth’s suspicions every time she spends a dime on decor. The constant seesawing between tentative friendship and suspicion goes on for well over 100 pages and I have to admit that I started to find it tiresome. I observed little development in terms of the character arcs for Marie and Seth at this point as well, and perhaps this added to the flatness I felt as I read.
In addition, Marie and Seth don’t just have issues. Each one of them has come to Prince Edward Island with a giant freight train of baggage. Seeing God’s healing power at work in broken lives can be very compelling, and it’s often a theme that moves me. However, because of the issue noted above, I had a lot of trouble feeling close to the characters and as a result their large, deep-seated issues just didn’t draw me in as they otherwise might have.
Things do really get going in the last third or so of the book as the inn faces financial issues, Marie must confront her past, and Seth learns to trust again. This part of the story is paced fairly well, and I do like Johnson’s writing style. However, with the first two-thirds of the book dragging along as they did, this energy in the story came along a bit too late for me.
The Red Door Inn isn’t a bad book, but I just could not stay interested and so took quite a long time to finish it. Rating: 2.5 stars