Review: The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren

Title: The Shadow of Your Smile (Deep Haven #6)

Author: Susan May Warren

Published:  Tyndale House Jan 2012

Synopsis: A beautiful blanket of snow may cover the quaint town of Deep Haven each winter, but it can’t quite hide the wreckage of Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage. After twenty-five years, they’re contemplating divorce . . . just as soon as their youngest son graduates from high school. But then an accident erases part of Noelle’s memory. Though her other injuries are minor, she doesn’t remember Eli, their children, or the tragedy that has ripped their family apart. What’s more, Noelle is shocked that her life has turned out nothing like she dreamed it would. As she tries to regain her memory and slowly steps into her role as a wife and mother, Eli helps her readjust to daily life with sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heartwarming results. But can she fall in love again with a man she can’t remember? Will their secrets destroy them . . . or has erasing the past given them a chance for a future?

Status: Read on December 27, 2011 — I own a copy {Courtesy Tyndale House/NetGalley}

My Thoughts:

The Shadow of Your Smile is a beautifully written story of how tragedy can tear apart a family even though it is the time when you need those you love most. Noelle and Eli’s marriage has fractured under the stress of losing their daughter and essentially they are leading separate lives when Noelle is badly injured, losing the memory of the past twenty something years. Noelle is shocked to discover she is unhappily married with near adult sons, has never made use of her art major and lives in a small town. However the accident may well be a blessing, for the family has a fresh slate, a chance to put their hurts and secrets behind them and reconnect… until memories begin to resurface and threaten to devastate them all.

I really enjoyed The Shadow of Your Smile – the first title I have read by Susan May Warren which is part of a series following characters in the small town of Deep Haven, Minnesota. The rich storyline is handled with sensitivity and depth and I was really impressed with they way in which Warren is able to explore so many facets of such emotive issues from so many perspectives, without ever descending in to melodrama. While it is Noelle and Eli’s disintegrating marriage that the story centers around, it is the aftermath of unexpected death that is the true focal element of the story with the author deftly showing how the tragedy impacts on those who are faced with it. Their respective losses are compounded by their own grief, guilt and anger that isolates them from each other creating more losses as they turn away from each other. The theme of forgiveness also plays a large part in the novel as does love and faith.
Despite a reasonably large featured cast, the characters in The Shadow of Your Smile are brought to life by Warren exposing what they think and feel. The characters are likeable and easy to relate to with their emotions and reactions are heartfelt and genuine. I had a huge amount of sympathy for all of the characters and enjoyed getting to know them.

The Shadow of Your Smile is a lovely contemporary read. Emotionally compelling and finely crafted, I may be tempted to read more by this author. To be honest had I known that the book had a strong Christian element I probably would not have chosen to read it. Due to my own beliefs I am uncomfortable with the preaching and bible quotes, particularly near the end of the book, however I chose to disregard them in favour of the story.

Available to Purchase

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Judith / Leeswammes
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 06:23:29

    Sounds like a good book. I was contemplating putting this on my TBR, had already opened Bookmooch so I could check if they had it, then I read on and saw that you didn’t like the Christian elements of the book. I don’t like that either in a book. And Bible quotes? No, I’ll pass.

    Such a pity, because the book sounds like a very good read otherwise. But I get itchy when there is even a hint of the writer trying to educate me in a religious way.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Dec 29, 2011 @ 16:44:58

      I think this could well have been a four or even four and a half star book for me without the sermonising. I feel bad about that, but as an agnostic with a distaste for organised religion, I couldn’t keep my bias out of it.

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  2. The Australian Bookshelf
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 17:51:52

    Hi Shelleyrae, this sounds like a great book! Like Judith and yourself, I am a little wary to pick up a book with heavy Christian influence. It really can take away from the flow of the story when it becomes too preachy. I think this will go on my tentative TBR list! Great review.
    Jayne

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  3. Melliane
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 22:33:03

    Your review is very interesting, I didn’t know this author (how is it that you always have authors I don’t know anything about? lol). It sounds like a nice book, it’s always a good thing to enjoy all the characters.

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  4. Stephanie O'Neil (@fakesteph)
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 03:03:15

    I don’t mind books about faith, I actually enjoy reading about belief systems other than my own, but I hate when books get preachy (faith related or just highly moralized about anything). I’m glad you were able to enjoy it anyway.

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  5. Christina T
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 23:13:11

    I have read a number of Susan May Warren’s books. I like some of them and others have been duds. I am not sure if I’d like this but I may give it a try someday. I don’t read much Christian fiction anymore. The plot summary reminded me a little bit of What Alice Forgot (the main character suffers amnesia and thinks she is ten years younger and still happily married). Thanks for sharing your review!

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 12:42:46

      It seemed to be a popular trope last year – amnesia of some description. I like What Alice Forgot much more though!

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  6. MarthaE
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 16:13:45

    I’ve read this author before and like her. This has an interesting premise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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