The Forgiving Hour
With a title like The Forgiving Hour , you can easily guess that this is a book about love and forgiveness. In a way, nearly everyone can relate to the subject matter; if you are still speaking to the members of your family, chances are you have had to forgive them at one time or another, and they’ve probably returned the favor. But this book is about major forgiveness. In a prologue at the beginning, Claire Conway is blind-sided in a horrible way. Her son shows up at the door with his fiancee, who happens to be the very woman with whom her ex-husband once had an affair.
From this point, the book backtracks. We are shown Claire’s crumbling marriage and her attempts to save it. We also see her husband Dave and his affair with Sara Jennings, who will one day be Claire’s son Dakota’s fiancee. It’s made very clear to the reader that the “bad guy” is Dave, not Sara. Sara meets Dave when he comes to repair the cabinets in her apartment. She is a college freshman, and he’s a married man – a little detail he never bothers to mention to her. Sara surrenders her virginity to Dave, believing that he loves her. When she finds out he is married, she is heartbroken, and she ends the relationship immediately. Unfortunately, this happens after Claire runs into Dave and Sara at a pizza place. Claire directs most of her anger at Sara, whom she decides is “stealing” her husband.
Dave’s affair with Sara and his marriage to Claire end simultaneously. He leaves Sara with a broken heart and a heavy burden of guilt, and Claire with a broken marriage, a mountain of debt, and a young son to raise. The rest of the book is about Claire, Sara, and Dakota coming to terms with their losses and learning to accept the past and forgive those who have hurt them. In the process, they all end up becoming Christians, and their faith ends up sustaining them through their difficult periods of forgiveness. In the end, after a long struggle, they all find the happiness they have been seeking.
This book is a romance; one that ends with two happy couples. However, the inspirational themes are every bit as integral to the book as the romance. This is clearly a book for Christians, or those interested in reading about them. And while sex is implied, the bedroom door is definitely closed. Obviously, this is not a book for everyone.
However, if you are open to trying an inspirational romance, this is a good one. The themes of love and forgiveness are thoroughly explored, in compelling way. All of the characters have a great deal of sorrow and pain in their lives, and it is gratifying to see them work through their bitterness and find inner peace. Hatcher does a good job of showing the two sides to the story – Sara’s and Claire’s – and Dakota’s difficulties of being in the middle.
I had a couple of problems with it. The first is that Sara’s reaction to her affair seems out of proportion. Her life is basically ruined for seven years after that. While it was a terrible thing to have to go through, it seems like she could have gotten over it a little faster than she did. The other problem is that while Claire forgives Sara, she never realizes how innocent Sara really is. I wanted them to have a conversation in which Claire finally realized that Sara never knew Dave was married, and I wanted Claire to understand how Sara’s life had been destroyed by the affair. Maybe they eventually do have this conversation, but it’s not in the book.
I’m sure you probably already know whether an inspirational romance is for you. If you’ve never tried one, but would like to The Forgiving Hour would be a good choice. The characters are sympathetic, the story is compelling, and the theme of forgiveness is a theme to which anyone can relate.