Monday, September 25, 2017

"House of Living Stones" by Katie Schuermann

Why, oh why, did I wait so long to read this book?  I've had it on my TBR shelves for like two years now, and yet I just kept putting it off.  Silly me.  This was, overall, a delightful book.

Emily Duke arrives in the small Illinois town of Bradbury looking for a fresh start.  She's got a new job at the university there, and Zion Lutheran Church hires her as their choir director.  At Zion, she encounters a staggering number of odd, eccentric, quirky, or troubled individuals -- my one real criticism of this book is that I've belonged to seven different congregations in my life, and not one of them had this many outrĂ© individuals.  But, hey, it's fiction.  I'll let it ride and enjoy the fun.

Emily is hiding something about her past.  She finds herself attracted to Zion's bachelor pastor.  The organist decides to feud with her for reasons Emily can't fathom.  One of her fellow professors keeps asking her out for coffee.  She gets a pet rabbit.  It's non-stop excitement, I tell you!

Okay, not really ;-)  It's a sweet, fun, sometimes thought-provoking look at life in a small town.  I laughed many times while reading this, and got tears in my eyes a couple times too.  Schuermann has written two sequels, and I hope to read them before the end of the year.

I've seen this book compared to the Mitford books by Jan Karon, and that description is fairly apt, though I feel like this is a bit edgier than the Mitford books I've read.  But the first Mitford books were written more than twenty years ago, so, you know, whatever.  By "edgier" I just mean there's a character that others suspect of being gay (he isn't), and there are some downright unpleasant people here.  Plus very gossipy ones.  So much gossip.  Which is portrayed as being bad and wrong, at least.

In the end, yup, I liked this, want to read the other two books, and have already recommended it to several friends.  And my mom.

Particularly Good Bits:

The Word of God was preached in its truth and purity that morning, the body and blood of Christ was rightly administered, and all God's people sang, "Amen."  As soon as the first notes of the postlude rang out in the church, young and old spilled out of their pews to make their exodus to the land of coffee and muffins before the Sunday school hour (p. 28)  (That's just the most Lutheran paragraph I have ever read in a fiction book, and it cracks me up in a happy way.)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for some gossipy speculations about marital infidelity and a person's sexual orientation.  No bad language or violence or racy scenes.  

This is my 9th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017.


  1. "Most Lutheran Paragraph" is definitely a good descriptor for that excerpt!

    1. So I just went and read your blog profile and dude, you're a Lutheran too! So cool.

      Yeah, that paragraph was like, "Wow, you nailed this."

    2. It seems there are a lot of us hiding in the recesses of the internet. I can hardly believe how many of my favorite fiction authors are Lutheran--it's not like I seek them out. They just tend to find me, it seems.

    3. This is true. I know of a couple other Lutheran bloggers, but it always surprises and excites me when I find another!

      Who are your fave Lutheran authors, then?

  2. Yes, that is a very Lutheran paragraph. :)


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