Title: Friendship Cake
Author: Lynne Hinton
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Harper San Francisco
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy borrowed from my mom
First line: There. That was short, to the point, and easy to type.
In Friendship Cake, Lynne Hinton has written a beautiful novel about the friendships of women and the fact that it’s never too late in life to forge lifelong relationships. Charlotte is the young pastor of Hope Springs Community Church. She wants to believe that there is more to pastoring than weddings and funerals, but isn’t sure that she is making a difference to her church or her community.
When the church women’s group form a committee to create a church cookbook, the widely different personalities and histories of the women involved make for friction and conflict, but ultimately the women learn to walk alongside each other as real friends.
I love the different characters Lynne has created for the Hope Springs series: nosy Beatrice, who just wants everyone to be friends; prickly Louise, who harbors a secret that no one will admit they know; Holy Spirit-filled Jessie, the matriarch of the one African-American family attending Hope Springs Church; and widowed Margaret, who has become an unofficial confidant and counselor to the teen girls of the church.
This novel could be considered Christian fiction, although it was not published by a Christian publishing house, probably because Lynne is willing to deal honestly and lovingly with issues like homosexuality and racism, issues that the many modern churches would like to pretend don’t exist. Having said that this could be “Christian fiction,” I would still recommend it to readers of any faith – or no faith, for that matter. Lynne’s writing is beautifully descriptive, and her characters are authentic. I am definitely planning to read the rest of the books in the Hope Springs series.
Now for the disclosure part. Lynne is the pastor of the Congregational Church in a town a half hour south of us. My mother is the pastor of the Free Methodist church in the same town, and they have become friends. When Mom told me that her new friend had written a book and that I should read it, I was initially hesitant. My first assumption was that it would either be self-published or formulaic Christian fiction. (I know, I know, we’re not supposed to assume.)
I looked at the back of the book, though, and saw this blurb:
“I would welcome a friendship with Lynne Hinton. I would welcome an invitation to sit down at her table, but mostly I would welcome her next book.” – Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Obviously, I had to rethink my assumptions – and I am so glad I did, because Mom wants to introduce me to Lynne, and it will be fun to sit down and have lunch with the two of them. It might have been a bit awkward if I hated her book.