Answering The Calls We All Feel | Review of “When Calls the Heart” by Janette Oke (1983) Bethany House

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has begun to announce it’s summer broadcast schedule for 2015. Among one of it’s shows it is airing is an adaptation of Janette Oke’s When Calls The Heart and the book deserves a read before it is aired.

Page 17

I had never even considered “moving on” before. I was very much a “home person.” I wasn’t even especially take with the idea of marriage. Oh, I supposed that somewhere, someday, there would be someone, but I certainly had no intention of going out looking for him, nor had I been very impressed with any of the young men who had come looking for me. On more than one occasion I had excused myself and happily turned the over to Julie. She also seemed pleased with the arrangement; but the feelings of the young men involved, I must shamefully confess, concerned me very little.

And now I was to “move on”?

This was an endearing read. We are given the story of Elizabeth, young, sophisticated and educated, is plucked from her Toronto home in the turn of 20th century and sent out to teach children as the Canadian frontier is beginning to open up to settlers. We follow her journey from her comfortable urban home, along a long train ride westward and witness her clumsy start at her teaching career in the wilds of the west.

Page 74

I was lingering by a window of the school building, taking one last fruitless peek into the dark interior, when a blood curdling, spine-chilling howl rent the stillness of the evening hour. It seemed to tear through my veins, leaving me terrified and shaking. The scream had hardly died away when another followed, to be joined by another.

I cam to life then. A wolf pack! And right in my very yard! They had smelled new blood and were moving in for the kill.

I sprang forward and ran for the door of my cabin, praying that somehow God would hold them back until I was able to gain entrance. My feet tangled in the new -mown grass and I fell to my hands and knees. With a cry I scurried madly on not even bothering to regain my feet. The sharp stubble of the grass and weeds bit into the palms of my hands, but I crawled on Another howl pierced the night.

“Oh, dear God!” I cried, and tears ran down my cheeks.

Howls seemed to be all around me now. Starting as a solo, they would end up in a whole chorus. What were they saying to one another? I was certain that they were discussing my coming end.

Somehow I reached the door and scrambled inside. I struggled to my feet and stood with my back braced against the flimsy wooden barrier. I expected an attack to come at any moment. I heard no sound of rushing padded feet, only sporadic howling. But Julie had  said that western wolves were like that – catlike and noiseless, silently stealing up on their victims.

My eyes lifted to the windows. The windows! Would they challenge the glass?

Oke has a simple style here that still is descriptive. The story is easy to follow and includes well-researched facts that enlightened the reader about the time period. While it is not an intellectual read it, is a brilliant book nonetheless.

Page 102

I was up with the birds on Monday morning. I was far too excited to sleep. I had always enjoyed teaching, but never before had it affected me in quite this way; the eagerness of the people in the area had rubbed off on me.

The bell was to be rung at nine o’clock. I felt that I had already lived two full days that morning before nine o’clock arrived.

Dressing carefully, I did my hair in the most becoming way that I knew. it really was too fussy for the classroom, but I couldn’t reason myself out of it. I tried to eat my breakfast but didn’t feel at all hungry, so I finally gave up and cleaned up my kitchen area.

I left early for the classroom and dusted and polished, rearranged and prepared, and still the hands on the clock had hardly moved.

The first students arrived at twenty to nine. Cindy and Sally Blake were accompanied by their mother and father. Mr. Blake was a quiet man – but every family can use one quiet member, I decided. Mrs. Blake was chattering before she even climbed down from the wagon, and didn’t actually cease until the schoolroom door closed upon her departing figure.

The Clarks came together – seven of them. It took me a few moments to sort them all out, and the harder I tried the more confused I became. It helped helped when I learned that there were two families involved, cousins – three from one family and four from the other.

When Calls The Heart by Janette Oke is an enlightening and endearing read. It has a simple plot yet is filled with well-researched facts. A must-read before the TV series airs.

*****

Link to Baker Publishing Group/Bethany House Publishers website for When Calls The Heart

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