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.