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Then Came Heaven

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,615 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
Can love survive a shattering loss? A grief-stricken widower learns to open his heart again in LaVyrle Spencer's touching and emotionally charged new novel.

Late summer, Browerville, Minnesota, 1950: Life is just about perfect for Eddie Olczak. A devoted husband and father, a man of unshakable faith, he derives intense pleasure from the life he's built with his beloved wif
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published December 8th 1997 by Putnam Adult (first published 1997)
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May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
There always seems to be a character in a LaVyrle Spencer book that I wish had a book of his/her own. Charles Bliss rides off into the sunset at the end of Vows to find (hopefully!) his happy ever after. I'd love to know if sensible and sweet Kerstin Johanson (The Endearment) ever found her true love. Young James Reardon of the same book was only a lad of thirteen but he had just discovered Nedda Johanson (an older woman by a year) wanted him to come courting. The "nice guy who finished last", D ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another beautiful read from this talented writer. I've recently been rereading some of her books and I'd forgotten what a quality writer she is. The characters are believable, the secondary characters are wonderful, the settings are evoked so realistically, and the stories tug on your heartstrings. The ones with historical settings don't seem to have dated either, which IMO is quite an achievement for books written in the 1990s.

At the start of the book, Ms Spencer explained that this was to be t
Jan 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book introduced me to LaVyrle; how sad I was when I learned she was no longer writing. This is a wonderful, wonderful love story.... especially meaningful to those who were raised Catholic. It is set in small town Minnesota. I purchased the book for a vacation read during a Minnesota vacation, only to find that it was set very near to where I was. She is a treasure. Love your work, LaVyrle.
Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
Probably my favorite of all LaVyrle Spencer's books. She has completely captured the 1950's small town America that is sheltered and nourished by the Catholic church. The idyllic time, the safe community, the devotion to faith and family.

LaVyrle also captures the grief and the sorrow of losing a beloved spouse and mother. The feelings evoked by her writing are real. Eddie is too good to be true, but a wonderful character. Sister Regina is fantastic and her metamorphosis from nun to woman is terr
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars.

This is definitely not a terrible book. I liked it. I enjoyed it. However, I had issues with the development of the romance between Sister Regina and Eddie. I did not find it realistic. At times it felt rushed and out of no where. However, this could have been due to the fact that novel was set in the 1950s.
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This final work of Spencer’s definitely reads different than her normal, gentler and more settled than dramatic and emotional, liked I’ve been used to from her. Not really a bad thing but I think I missed that high dramatic content from this “good-bye” book from her.

I liked the characters well enough. The leads were thoroughly portrayed and three-dimensional. I liked how Spencer went into detail on how Eddie dealt with his grief over his sudden loss and his struggle to cope with suddenly being a
Dennis Mitton
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Then Came Heaven is just about as far as I can get from my normal reading but at the prodding of my mother – fascinated at how it portrays life as she grew up – I gave it a go.

I’m not familiar with the genre but the book was pleasant, inoffensive, readable, and entertaining. All without the slightest shred of depth or development. It’s like an outline, penciled out with plot and characters, with linking dialogue scribbled in to connect the dots.

And that’s too bad. There is plenty of good stuff
Barbara M
LaVyrle Spencer's last book as she retired from writing. This one is set in her old hometown (Browerville MN) and she tells about her trip back to the town and the names she uses in the novel in Author's Note at the beginning of the book.

The population of the town is small, everyone knows or is related to everyone else. The population is largely polish Catholic and the St. Joseph's church is a central part of their lives.

The story starts out with a terrible accident as a car, driven by Krystyn
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to kim by: I like the author so picked it up.
I'd give this a 3-1/2 if that were possible. I liked it. LaVyrle Spencer's books are always interesting and this was no exception, but I would not class it as one of her best.

The story begins on a late summer day, when a train and a car race to the crossing, and the car loses. THe driver, Krystina Olczak, is killed instantly. In this small, very Catholic town in 1950, Krystina is close to a saint; a perfect mother, a perfect wife, a perfect daughter & sister, and a perfect parishioner. The
Dec 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s 1950 in Browerville, Minnesota, Eddie Olczak and his wife, Krystyna, have a wonderful life together with their two elementary school-age daughters. Then, their world is turned upside-down when Krystyna is killed in a car-train accident.

At the local Catholic school, Sister Regina is the Olczak girls teacher and she is the one who has to break the news to his two young daughters.

We follow Eddie and his family deal with their grief over the loss of their wife, mother, daughter and sister. At t
Oct 01, 2010 rated it liked it
I really thought I'd already given this one a read since I love LaVyrle Spencer, this book has been on my shelf for years now and I was sure that I had read all her novels. But nope, as I read it I realized that only the first few pages were familiar. Which makes sense - they were enough to make me want to put the book down. Thank goodness my love of LaVyrle Spencer's writing outweighs my lack of love for this particular novel of hers.

Then Came Heaven is the story of Eddie, whose wife Krystyna d
Anne Holly
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, keeper
I read this for the first time about 12 years ago, while still living in Halifax. It was this book, in fact, that prompted me to write my own first novel since childhood - not the book itself, really, but the touching afterword in which the author discusses her retirement. For some reason, I was so touched, I decided to write. The rest, as they say, is history.

Re-reading this, I don't know that I loved it as much as I did that first time. This time, the rapidity of the whole situation bothered m
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
In a small town in Minnesota a loving wife and mother tries to beat a train and is killed. Her husband, Eddie and her daughters Ann and Lucy are devastated. She has been a loyal Catholic, helping the parish with food, rides, and many other kind deeds. One of the nuns, Sister Regina, is so sad for the children and their father. As Sister Regina tries to regain her vows as a nun, she is having second thoughts about whether she should seek dispensation of her vows. When she sees that she can no lo ...more
Sara Pauff
Jul 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
Sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned, comforting love story. That's Then Came Heaven. No gimmicks, no bells & whistles, just the kind of small town characters you would find in an old Hollywood film and a story with a happy ending. It has its cheesy moments and its teary moments (you owe me a box of tissues for that first 100 pages, LaVyrle), but overall, it was one of those books that I really looked forward to coming home and reading at the end of the day -- which hasn't happened ...more
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. Though I am an atheist now, I was raised a strict Roman Catholic with an aunt for a nun and two cousins were priests. I went to Catholic school up until 8th grade so I can really relate to a lot of this book. The way the author describes the emotions of these people is so realistic that I feel like I'm there with them, and I ache for the people left behind when Krystyna dies--although I always wonder why she raced that train when it's clear she couldn't make it from the enginee ...more
Samm Seals
Jan 25, 2014 rated it liked it
easy read however, the first third is somewhat sad dealing with the loss of the young mother. it takes perseverance to get to the heart of the plot.
story is set in a northern Minnesota tiny town that supports the surrounding farms. families are large and close relationships round out the reason for the story.
to the point this is a story about the Catholic religion and how it governs tradition and lifestyles.
surprising to me that the church didn't react negatively to the book. the author retire
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was a beautifully told story of loss and love. The setting is in a small Minnesota town where everyone knows everyone but in a way where the sense of community is strong and people take care of each other. Deeply religious, there are strong Catholic undertones and the Catholic school classes are still taught by nuns. Part of the story was told from a nun's perspective and told about how the meaningfulness and power of Catholicism, but also how parts of the religion did not seem to make much ...more
Shannon A. Hiner
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Christians & Catholics, People who love crying
Recommended to Shannon by: Mum
This book was amazing. I am so glad that I gave it a chance. It was so touching, just tore me up into little bits before putting me back together as a whole new person.

I probably cried through 3/4 of the books, and now I have a salt deficiency in my body, but it was worth it.

The book also convinced me thoroughly that I could never be a nun. It IS a very religious book, but since I am a devout Catholic this didn't bug me in the least, rather it made the experience more enjoyab
Mindy Mcc
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had found one of her books in a garage sale and read it. It was good, I liked her writing style so I picked this one in a library search. It turned out to be the last book she wrote before she decided to retire in 1997. It was an ironic pick... she grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and everything about everybody. In a Catholic community of old school traditions and old school beliefs. She created this sweet love story around a young Catholic nun questioning her vocation- non ...more
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance, religion
Rather boring, and also made me flashback to some old religious rage that I felt when I watched a movie about Saint Therese in college. The whole "asking forgiveness when you've done nothing wrong" and "submitting with obedience" to hypocrites and self-righteous asshattery makes my blood boil. Feels like a load of man-made rules set up just to ensure you fail, but hey, what do I know. ~__~

In any case, the whole point of the novel was to show how a nun felt compelled to leave, and I agreed with h
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: lavyrle-spencer
This is an updated review and even if this was not one of my favorite books by LaVyrle Spencer, who, for me, is truly a gifted romance author, this is still a lovely and very tender read.
The characters, Sister Regina/Jean Potlocki and Eddie Olczak are wonderfully endearing and felt very genuine. I liked that this is set in the 1950ies, and life was more simple then, and I liked how the author was able to tell this love story with so much reverence and dignity. This was a very touching read by a
A wonderful story of a simpler time where family, neighbors and church were central to a community. The most difficult part about this novel was Mrs. Spencer's writing to her readers she was retiring and we could no longer enjoy her stories. I am from the area where many of her stories were written and while visiting the town she had resided in, a local resident said she no longer lives there (Hasting, Minnesota). I hope someday she may consider writing again, otherwise I will continue to enjoy ...more
took place in 1950. I had read this before but had mostly forgotten it. It is about a man whose wife is killed. He works at the Catholic Church and school as a janitor and falls in love with a nun who falls in love with him. The love part was pretty low key. It also started to happen only 2 months after the wife he loved so much died. It seemed a little soon to me. Still a pleasant enough book.
Lynn Smith
I loved this story of an ordinary man coping with grief carrying on after the death of his wife for the sake of his children and of Sister Regina's spiritual conflict and affection for Eddie's girls and growing feelings for Eddie himself. This remains a favourite of mine and is a definite keeper. It remains so disappointing that this was her last novel with her taking the decision to retire as a writer. I miss the novels she has not written in the past nearly 20 years.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
It has been close to 20 years since I've read a romance novel and though I should likely be secretive about reading "Then Came Heaven", I feel no shame. All of the characters (aside from Sister Mary Charles) are immensely likable, and it was the perfect escapist novel for me to read before bed while working on a major research project. No bodice ripping cheese here.
Apr 08, 2010 rated it liked it
This is Spencer's last book and I had not read it before. I have read most of her books in the past. I must say it is a delightful book and she is a wonderful writer. It just seems to me that I have been reading so many great novels recently that I found this little romance just too predictable. Nice story though.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-s-fiction
I read this book several too many moons ago and LOVED it. I keep thinking I need to get a new copy and read it again. I was drawn into this love story almost before I knew what hit me. I hadn't quit reeling and grieving for Krystyna when I saw the first sparks fly between Eddie and Sister Regina. It was subtle, then suddenly it wasn't. I have GOT to get a copy of this book. One of my favorites!
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is a good old-fashioned love story but, of course, not without its ups and downs. I have loved most of LaVyrle Spencer's books and this one was no exception. A small Town, Catholic community, is the setting, and I plan to pass this book on to my childhood friend who is Catholic. I'm sure she will picture herself in many places in the book.
Jun 23, 2008 added it
This is a book I like a lot. I read it when I was about 13 during the height of my wanting to be a nun phase. The love and struggles of the main character Regina always effect me very strongly. It is about her journey of discovery about what identifies our spiritual worth in the Kingdom, and yes it is also a love story.
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I bought this in hardback because I'm a big fan of Spencer's and this book didn't disappoint. It's the kind of love story I really enjoy and Spencer does her usual fantastic job of making the reader feel like they live in the story and know the characters. This is one that will stay on my shelf and maybe even be read a couple of times.
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LaVyrle Spencer is an American best-selling author of contemporary and historical romance novels. She has successfully published a number of books, with several of them made into movies. Twelve of her books have been New York Times bestsellers, and Spencer was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame in 1988.

Spencer is known for creating realistic characters and stories that focu
More about LaVyrle Spencer...

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