Sam Gardner has been pastor of Hope Friends Meeting for just four months when ninety-eight-year-old member Olive Charles passes away. What's more shocking news is that Olive has left her entire estate--worth nearly one million dollars--to the meeting. At first the gift sounds to Sam like a like a godsend. Yet as word of the unexpected windfall spreads, it stirs up a storm of conflicting opinions amongst the church members as to how the money would best be used. And before the estate is even released to the meeting, Olive's estranged niece, Regina Charles, turns up tipsy and furious in Hope and threatens a lawsuit over what she believes is rightfully hers. Although it may be an opportune time to ask for a raise, Sam finds himself questioning his future in Hope while trying to guide his lively congregation and find a peaceful way to deal with Regina.
If you read my review of A Place Called Hope, the first book in this new series, you know that I was was less than thrilled by it. I'm glad to be able to say that A Lesson in Hope was a much better read. The story doesn't have a glaringly controversial topic and you get a glimpse of the original writing style of Gulley.
Sam and Barbara Gardner have been at the Hope Friends Meeting for four months and are beginning to settle into the community nicely. Just when things seem to be going smoothly Olive Charles dies and leaves the church a small fortune.
As the human condition seems to dictate, the squabbles over what to do with the money that they do not yet have begins. Through the chaos there are a few characters that I really have come to appreciate. Ruby Hopper being at the top of the list. Not only can she make a delicious pie, she is also the calm and steady leadership that this group needs.
As I said you do get a glimpse of the humorous writing style that I loved about some of the first Harmony novels. The interactions between Sam and his family, particularly his parents, will make you chuckle and shake your head. The only story line that I really didn't like was that of Sam's obsession with Gretchen Weber. I know that it was supposed to be a semi-humorous life lesson but it just didn't come across that way. I did like the way that Barbara handled it. The woman is brilliant.