I am a reader by nature. Always have been. If my nose isn’t in a book during some of my free time in any given day/week/month (depending on how things are going in my life), a part of me will languish and rot (which is one of the reasons I’m offline in the evenings — it’s the only way I can make sure I read!).

Though I read less fiction than I used to — and sometimes less than I’d like — I still love a good story more than almost anything else. A good story isn’t limited to a novel, of course, but somehow that seems to be where I’m most likely to find it.

Recently, I’ve become intrigued by the idea of Catholic fiction. At first, I thought it would be too…well, too obvious to be enjoyable. Then I read In This House of Brede and Catholic, Reluctantly (links open my reviews). I was hooked. There was nothing about these books that wasn’t just good reading. They were — are — good reading, through and through. They are Catholic in the sense that I feel that I am Catholic…it’s part of the package, but I still have a lot of non-Catholic friends, a lot of other interests. Though I consider myself a Catholic Christian first and foremost, I’m also many other things. These books and I have plenty in common. 🙂

I was disappointed to find my library didn’t have many of the titles I started seeking. (I have since gotten a smile and encouragement from our reference librarian to send her a list of the titles I’m interested in reading — she’s enthusiastic and supportive and I have real hope.)

By luck — or, if I’m honest, by a blessing — I chanced into a copy of Emily’s Hope, by Ellen Gable. I wasn’t sure about it — it was in that category of “obviously Catholic” that had me wary.

I shouldn’t have worried. It turned out to be a novel that captured my heart and taught me a lesson (or three) about my faith through its story. Gable builds a cast of characters who are real-to-life and whose story resonates with my experience. She weaves in a historical context that made me wonder, the entire book, why it mattered — and then, when I found out, I learned a lesson I’ve never really been able to grasp: how sin impacts everything, how one person can impact another through their sinning and, conversely, through their praying.

This book was, for me, valuable catechesis. It’s a novel that uses the ideal to teach, though the characters have their flaws and battles to fight. I can think of at least two friends who will enjoy it.

In an email exchange, Gable mentioned that her second novel (“much better written!” she says, though I think she did a pretty darn good job on this first one!) will be out in June. I’ll be excited to read it!