cover image Velma Still Cooks in Leeway

Velma Still Cooks in Leeway

Vinita Hampton Wright. B&H Publishing Group, $12.99 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-8054-2128-6

H""A real story doesn't require a special, make-believe place. Our lives get lived out in the open, with people walking in and out of them as they please."" So notes Velma, the smalltown Kansas cook who narrates this extraordinary, character-driven novel. How does a close-knit Christian community react as it gradually suspects that one of its favorite sons is viciously abusing his wife? For a Christian author, Wright (Grace at Bender Springs) pulls no punches; these characters are complex sinners whose dark sides will remind readers of unresolved conflict in their own lives. Each chapter begins with an epigraph from the Book of Ezekiel, setting the tone for the ensuing action, and ends with a soulful recipe from Velma's cafe, where the town's loves and losses are played out. Wright draws her characters masterfully, allowing them to grow and minutely change. A ""good old boy"" pastor who doubts the veracity of a young wife's delicate pleas for help comes to realize his error when his own daughter has similar troubles in her marriageDbut not before a terrible tragedy engulfs the town. The novel explores the nuts and bolts of forgiveness in a village that looks sleepy from the outside but that actually stages a cosmic drama of divine grace at work in human life. As a bona-fide work of literary fiction, Wright's newest deserves a wide readership both within and outside the Christian market. (Sept.)