Rain song / Alice J. Wisler. LCCN 2008028123. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany
PAP 0764204777, 9780764204777, $13.99
Fic 295 p. ; 22 cm.
Adult Rating: 4
Rain Song, the debut novel of Alice J. Wisler, offers a charming plot that is partially a mystery with overtones of a romance. The story centers on Nicole, who lives a solitary life which is focused around her interactions with her quirky southern relatives and caring for her aquarium of fish. Her life is filled with teaching middle school English and periodically writing an on-line column for Pretty Fishy. It is through her column that she becomes acquainted with Harrison who lives in Japan and owns a koi pond. Nicole has strong ties with Japan, having been born there to missionary parents; however, her mother tragically died there when Nicole was but a toddler. Nicole vows she will not return to the land of her birth, no matter that her correspondence with Harrison reveals he knew her as a child. Nicole begins to waver as the mystery of her mother’s death begins to unravel, and she tries to overcome her apprehensions of flying and returning to her birthplace.
Wisler’s style is captivating. The story unfolds as a soliloquy of sorts, as Nicole goes through life. Set in North Carolina, readers enjoy the cast of distinctive relatives, ranging from the matriarch Ducee to the wild child Monet. Each character adds to the story in such a way that the eccentricities add and not distract. Amid life’s emergencies such as an ailing grandmother and a cousin’s failing marriage there is quibbling over serving cucumber sandwiches at the family reunion luncheon and the need to make and provide pineapple chutney for all occasions. The heartbeat of the story is pineapple chutney, and the old family recipe is provided. Tender spiritual truths are present, mainly those dwelling on the strength of faith, even if it is just a seed. Gently-paced, this story was surprisingly a page-turner.
From Christian Library Journal, August 2009
How sweet it is / Alice J. Wisler. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2009. LCCN 2009004739
PAP: 0764204785, 9780764204784, $13.99
Fic 309 p. ; 22 cm.
Adult Rating: 4
Alice Wisler provides another likable heroine in her second novel, How Sweet It Is. Deena Livingston had been planning her wedding until her car accident. The accident left her with serious scars, both emotional and physical. In order to start over she leaves her comfortable job as a pastry chef at an upscale restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, and moves into her grandfather’s North Carolina mountain cabin. The cabin and all its belongings will become hers, after she fulfills the will’s stipulation that she teach cooking at an after-school center. Upon arrival Deena is embraced by her flamboyant Aunt Regena Lorraine, who helps Deena move into her beloved father’s cabin. As Deena adjusts to her new life she realizes she is not the only one who carries scars. With the help of an Eagles-lyric spouting plumber, surly middle-schoolers, and the charming social worker, Deena decides life can once again become sweet.
Wisler’s first novel Rain Song showcased her ability for providing readers with an absorbing plot laced with a cast of memorable characters. Her second offering builds upon this talent, making the reader eager for her next novel. Her plot devices and character interactions breathe life into the Christian fiction genre. The only real holdback is the cover, which is embarrassingly saccharin in design. The content is definitely solid, and Wisler is a welcome addition in those writers who offer spiritual truths wrapped up in believable, contemporary settings.
From Christian Library Journal, October-December 2009