Focusing on the eldest of the Gregory sisters, Lorn Seilstad begins her series with the foreclosure of the Gregory farm, leaving the three orphaned women without a home. Taking care of her sisters like always, Hannah lets go of her dream of becoming a lawyer and turns to employment as a Hello Girl - a switchboard operator. While laws (and upholding them) are something Hannah approves of, following pointless rules has never been her strong suit, and the job of switchboard operator has a lot of them. When her childhood friend is arrested as an arsonist, Hannah is sure he is innocent, so she is forced to turn to a young attorney, the man who delivered the message of their foreclosure, for help. Can Hannah hold onto her job and care for sisters, or will the rules and the two young men angling for her affections drive her crazy?
Clearly the author has put in a lot of research to perfect the setting - both in its time period and place. Descriptions of the Des Moines capitol building sound breathtaking, while the little details of everyday life firmly set it at the turn of the century. It was fun to learn about the Hello Girls, though based on the rigid rules, I would think just about anyone would have a hard time keeping that job! I am sure they were exceedingly efficient, but to be forced to stare straight ahead without ever glancing at the people right next to you, or to be required to ask permission to blow a nose or wipe a forehead? Wow!
Seilstad is good at working messages into her stories, and this one is no exception; in fact, besides the main theme of depending on God and not just on oneself, she works into it a secondary theme - don't give up on your dreams. Sometimes circumstances force one to put them aside for a while, but God has given us dreams, and he finds a way to bring them to fruition. Hannah had long wanted to be a lawyer, but in order to survive, she has to work rather than go to college; yet that dream never dies. Even if it is not in the way she expected, God provides a way for her to use her talents and education. It was encouraging and good reinforcement after just discussing this same theme in bible study!
Sprinkled with a generous dose of humor, the story is a fine balance of drama, danger, and romance. The characters are both fun and flawed, making it a pleasure to follow their stories.
The Gregory Sisters
1. When Love Calls
2. While Love Stirs
3. (coming 2015)