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This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson
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's review
May 24, 2010

it was amazing
Read in May, 2010

When Mariette Puttnam graduates from an exclusive boarding school and returns to her family, she faces a future full of unknown and exciting possibilities. But if her parents have any say in the matter, her future will be carefully channeled – her father wants her to continue her education and join him in the family business, while her mother wants to find her a very proper Southern husband so she can begin the very proper occupation of raising a family. However, a chance meeting with Thayne Scott, a lowly mail clerk at her father’s factory, will change the course of Mariette’s life forever. Mariette and Thayne’s impetuous love affair will be sorely tested when Thayne is called into the ministry, a call Mariette isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to – or want to – understand. Thayne’s love for God and passion for spreading the gospel will impact Mariette’s life in ways she’d never dreamed possible. Through the early years of marriage and the pains of establishing a ministry, Mariette and Thayne’s marriage is severely tested. Through it all Mariette discovers that though she may not be living the life she’d planned, allowing God into the center of life wherever you find yourself can make this life very fine indeed.

Reading This Fine Life proved to be an unexpected joy. I don’t typically gravitate towards fiction set in the 1960s, but the exquisite promise that Mariette meets her future “in the narrow stairwell of her father’s apparel factory, exactly between the third and fourth floors” captured my imagination. Of course the fabulous, Mad Men-style cover didn’t hurt, either. From the first few chapters it would be easy to assume that this novel is a “typical” boy-meets-girl romance, but Everson gives readers something so much richer than that. More than just a romance between two impetuous teens on the cusp of adulthood, This Fine Life is about what it takes to make a life, what happens after the first blush of romance has settled and the “I do’s” have been spoken. It’s a rare thing (in my experience, anyway) to find fiction that is less about the initial romance and more about the romance of building a marriage and a life together, and the commitment it takes to work through the trials when it would be easier to walk away.

The pages of This Fine Life positively drip with Southern charm. Everson so excels at bringing this time period to life, I felt like I was seeing movies like Tammy Tell Me True or April Love come to life (the latter starring Pat Boone, which is wildly appropriate considering it’s Boone’s rendition of the song “Friendly Persuasion” that plays an important role in Thayne and Mariette’s first meeting). Every description, from Mariette’s clothing to the food, appliances, and shops she frequents fully immerse you in 1960s Georgia, and I loved every second of the time I spent in her world. While Everson does a superb job saturating her storytelling with colorful descriptions and rich characterizations that bring the people and places within the pages of This Fine Life vividly to life, it’s the journey Mariette and Thayne take as they grow and mature as individuals and in their marriage that will stick with you long after you finish the final pages. I applaud Everson for crafting such a memorable story about the power and beauty of commitment, and seeking and finding one’s place and purpose in this life. Mariette’s story is one that cannot fail, I think, to tug the heartstrings of anyone who’s searching, or remembers what it’s like, to embark on the often-painful, but ultimately rewarding, journey of self-discovery and finding one’s place in this world that makes up a life. This Fine Life is a story worth savoring, a powerful reminder of the fine life to be found when one trusts in the faithfulness of an unchanging God.
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