First paragraph: "Some great romances worth the telling are never told, their lovers slipping silently between life's timeworn cracks only to be pitched with yesterday's trash. As owner of a small estate-sale business, I'd witnessed evidence over the years of various couples' love lives. So I'd learned to sift through piles of forgotten memories. Learned to appreciate a second look...and perhaps ease my pain."
"Forever Friday: A Novel" by Timothy Lewis is a love story.
In the summer of 2006, Adam Colby is supervising one of his estate sales in Houston, Texas. The old house belonged to the Alexanders- a couple who have both passed away. Whilst perusing the contents during his day, he flicks through an old photograph album, and finds six decades worth of postcards- each with a poem written by Gabe Alexander to his wife, Huck.
As Adam reads each one, he finds himself enchanted by their seemingly 'perfect love'. Unhappily divorced two years ago, he wonders how the Alexander's kept the spark in their marriage when his went so disastrously. The more he reads the more he wants to know, and sets off contacting people from the Alexander's past in order to discover more about them. His main interest is Yevette- the daughter of the Alexander's housekeeper. If he can find out the formula for the 'perfect marriage', perhaps he has a second chance at love.
Meanwhile, in 1926, Gabe and Huck Alexander meet for the first time. The rest is history.
Switching between point of views, we see the story told from Adam, Yevette, Gabe and Huck's perspective. The story is told through a series of flashbacks to Huck and Gabe's first meeting in 1926, and beyond, following their love story and that of the postcards- sent every Friday for sixty years.
This story was inspired by the lives of the author's great-uncle and aunt, and shares many similarities. At their estate sale, he discovered sixty years of postcards poems from his great-uncle to his great-aunt, and it was that which sparked the concept for this book.
In this story, each poem connects to an event in Gabe and Huck's life at the time. We don't get to see all of them, but almost every chapter starts with one of the poems- relating it to events in the chapter as they would have related to events in the Alexander's lives. They span from 1926 to the mid-80s when Gabe died.
You have two stories here- Adam's and the Alexander's. The latter is the focus of the book, and most of it is spent in the past with them. We also get flashbacks to 2004, when Huck is in a nursing home with dementia, and still believes that Gabe is sending her postcards. He promises her one final postcard, and there is a small mystery about what is says- revealed at the end.
From the very start you know the framework of the ending. You have the story of two lovers who lived full lives and are both deceased. But as the years fly by, the inevitability of it, mixed with the uncertainty of the 'how' creates a sense of dread and sadness. A bitterness that must seep through the sweet.
The Alexander's love starts off as a heady, rosy-tinted whirlwind romance. As the honeymoon faze fades, a more realistic relationship does develop. They quarrel, they bicker and they fight, but they never allow themselves to lose their love. Huck is definitely the less mature of the two, occasionally throwing tantrums if she doesn't get her way, but there is absolutely nothing superficial about their relationship.
Obviously, Huck and Gabe's story is the focus, and it shines through. Adam's story, however, I found quite predictable, and I didn't really get anything much out of it. However, as I said, this if the story of Gabe and Huck, and that's it. The story of two people who meet and fall in love. The simplicity of the concept creates a kind of magic to the words. It is a very moving story. We may know the basics of how the story ends, but as the old proverb goes- it is the journey that matters, not the destination, and that is the mantra of this story.
There are some possible supernatural elements. Perhaps an angel, or maybe just a drifter whose words inspired a young girl's heart. It doesn't matter who he was, what matters is what he meant to Huck, and what she believed he was. It was the hope he sparked in her that emanated throughout this book.
The characters are, well Gabe and Huck are the two who stand out, as they should. Their absolute adoration for each other shines through the pages, and make this story. The other characters are almost superfluous. With one exception. A character by the name of Mister Jack, who I will say no more on lest I spoil it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book- far more that I thought I would. This is more than the usual love story. It is a story of hope. Of two people who consciously choose to never let their love slide, and that love is undeniable. While the situations may be romanticised (and therefore not entirely realistic) there is no doubt of the characters devotion to one another. It radiates. It is the lifeblood of this book. Yes, it can be a little sappy at times, and very cheesy, but oh well.
I believe this book is sometimes labelled "Christian fiction". Personally, I don't really like that as a label, because it tells you nothing about the book other than some form of God may be in it. Fiction is a diverse genre, and is not a clear enough description of a books genre. To me, describing a book as "Christian fiction" is like describing a book as "Chick Lit". Yes, we all know what that mostly means, but it is not a label that I think works. Anyway, I am not a religious person myself, so what did I think of the religious factors in this story. Well, they're not preachy- which is always my biggest worry. Rather, some of the characters are religious, and their actions and words will represent that. There may also be an 'angel', but it's left ambiguous. So, for me it wasn't really a big deal.
This is a feel-good book (for the most part), but was more profound than I expected it to be. I flew through the pages, as the years flew by the Alexander's. A great love story with a deeper meaning.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from Blogging for Books. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.