Book Review: The Potluck Club Takes the Cake

The Potluck Club Takes the Cake by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson is the third in a series about a group of friends from a church who started several years ago getting together for prayer and a potluck meal.

The characters and their storylines were established in the earlier two books. There’s Evie, or Evangeline, long-time church and town member, founder and acknowledged unofficial head of the Potluck Club. She’d dating her “old flame” from high school days, Vern, the sheriff, who is also the father of Donna, another member of the Potluck Club. Donna, unbeknownst to others, is not a believer and has several issues to work through — the abandonment of her mother, the abortion of a child years earlier that she still hasn’t gotten over, her father’s dating of Evie, attention from several males when she wants to be left alone, and her work as her father’s deputy. Vonnie is an older lady who is very close to Donna. Her son was taken away when he was born, and her mother told her the baby had died, all because she was prejudiced against the heritage of the baby’s dead father. In a previous book Vonnie was shocked to discover her baby was very much alive and grown and wanted to meet her. Vonnie’s husband was even more shocked — he hadn’t known that Vonnie was married before. Lizzie is just settling into the quiet serenity of an almost empty nest when one son’s family problems cause him to move back home, later bringing his wife and child with him. Then her brother has a crisis in his family, necessitating that Lizzie step in to provide care for her elderly mother. Goldie’s husband has been unfaithful for years and she finally calls him on it, moving out of the house. He begins counseling with the pastor and Goldie has to decide whether he is sincere and what she should do. And then there is Lisa Leann, newcomer, transplant from Texas, general busybody, on an all-out and obvious campaign to wrest the leadership of the group from Evie. And Clay is a local reporter who is interested in Donna and who speculates what the Potluck Club as a whole is up to.

Each chapter is told by a different character, with Clay’s observations in between chapters tying them all together. I like the set-up because you hear the different character’s voices and see events from different points of view.

When I began reading the first book, I thought, “Well, Christian fiction should have flawed characters, because we are all flawed,  but wow, these ladies are over the top!” I think, I hope, anyway that some of their character flaws are exaggerated for effect, especially Lisa Leann’s. And though the storylines may sound somewhat soap-opera-ish, Christians today do have to deal with several of the issues involved. The authors masterfully weave together each storyline ads the ladies help each other through each crisis and grow in grace and dependence on the Lord, and there are splashes of humor as well as poignant moments throughout. This was my favorite book in the series so far.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: The Potluck Club Takes the Cake

  1. Interesting review. I tend to approach Christian fiction in a critical manner over all. I think you said it well when you said that we all DO have to deal with flaws. If the author deals with things well (i.e., in a realistic manner) it doesn’t seem so over the top. Unfortunately it seems like Christian authors DO go overboard (for the redemption factor, I guess?) in a way that leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. This particular series sounds interesting however. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hello from one of the authors! My coauthor, Linda, came across this review today and shared it with me. Thank you so much for it…for reading the books, etc.

    Allow me to comment briefly on the flaws of the characters. 1) Linda and I strive to hit issues we see within the women of the church today as we both speak in churches across the world, mostly the USA. The issues our women face are, therefore, realistic. 2) Because we want some element of poignancy within the humor, we try to keep the humor on top. Thus, the over-exaggeration. But I also feel that the over-exaggeration comes from the viewpoint of OTHERS. For instance, Lisa Leann’s faults are mostly and with the most humor pointed out by Evangeline. Lovingly by her daughter. Lisa Leann thinks she’s just fine…mostly.

    Linda and I want readers to laugh at themselves as they read, then allow the Holy Spirit to move in them and help them to explore the issues in their own lives.

    Thank you again for the review!

  3. Hi Barbara and friends,
    Eva and I are tickled to drop by and add to this discussion. I think our character problems, issues and conflicts are the very reason there’s such a buzz about the Potluck Club series, and our latest installment, The Potluck Club Takes the Cake.

    It’s time we were honest about what it takes to live a life of faith as well as what it takes to get along with others. As Eva indicated, we learned from meeting our readers around the country that there’s a lot of hurt out there.

    If you want to get a peek at what it took for Eva and I to stay friends through this writing process, watch this clip at:

    Blessings Everyone,
    Linda Evans Shepherd

  4. Wow — I am always amazed when authors find my little speck in the blogosphere! Thank you both for stopping by and commenting.

    I do agree that it’s important to talk about real-life problems that people wrestle with. A friend and I were talking recently about panic attacks and how some who wrestle with them don’t talk about it because they think “good Christians” don’t experience such things. That’s a shame, both because they’re not getting the help they need, and it perpetuates the myth about what good Christians should or do experience.

    Thanks for the link to the video! I enjoyed it. I saw that there were others from the same interview — I want to go back and check them out soon.

  5. Hi Barbara,
    It’s also a real kick for Eva and I to get to meet our readers. Thanks again for posting your review! And yes, there are several interivews posted on GodTube. Plus, you get to see what it looks like when the host and the interviewee — show up wearing the same outfit.

  6. Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: September 1, 2007 at Semicolon

  7. Pingback: A bloggy look back at 2007 « Stray Thoughts

  8. Pingback: Book Review: Things Left Unspoken « Stray Thoughts

I love hearing from you. I've had to turn on comment moderation. Comments will appear here after I see and approve them.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.