Spring is here and summer is fast apporaching, it’s getting to that time during the year when exams are nearly done with (thank God!) and the endless stream of summer is calling for adventures, and long days with a book whilst the sun beams in through the window.
Christian romance is a very niche category in itself, but bear with me here. I may be a little biased, considering this is the eleventh – thirteenth (and the third series) of Erynn Mangum’s books I’ve read, but I really enjoyed these books. She’s one of my all time favourite authors, closely behind C.S. Lewis, Sylvia Plath and Oliver Sacks. Her style, although very different to the other authors I mentioned, is extremely refreshing, giving a light hearted feel to her story lines, with moments that make you catch your breath in how she brings faith and God into everyday life and topics that we tend to not talk about a lot.
I’ve previously fallen in love with her Lauren Holbrook series, to the point that I’ve read each book in that series more than 5 times. For such a niche genre, Mangum does it so well, whilst making you, in the process, fall so easily in love with her characters and their lives, in making you feel less alone and pulling your heartstrings with words you didn’t even think you needed to hear.
I was hesitant in reading the Carrington Springs series, due to my attachment to all the character’s in Mangum’s, Lauren Holbrook series (which I HIGHLY recommend you read, if Christian romance is your jam, or just romance in general), but I am incredibly glad I gave it a try. I fell in love with Katie, Eliza, Ashten and their community, with the topic of singleness and the waiting season, within Christian communities, pulling on my heartstrings, a whole lot.
synopsis (katie in waiting):
Is this it?
Katie McCoy has spent her whole life waiting for the right guy and he isn’t coming. After relocating to Carrington Springs, Missouri, Katie finds herself getting more and more frustrated. Can’t God see that she’s trying her best to meet someone? Doesn’t He care that she’s lonely? What is she doing that is making Him not bless her with this?
With two new friends, Eliza and Ashten, by her side, Katie starts to realise that maybe God has bigger plans for her life than she could have ever imagined.
my rating: 4.5/5
Katie moves to Carrington Springs, Missouri, living a slower paced life in comparison to her life in New York life where she worked as an editor. Despite finding the move daunting, she finds comfort in her local coffee store, and with her grandma, then soon meets her beloved friends Eliza and Ashten. Eliza is a nurse that works in the post-natal baby unit at Carrington Springs Hospital, she also recently moved to Carrington Springs (mainly to get away from her controlling and overbearing brother), and becomes Katie’s new neighbour and one of her best friends. We then have Ashten who is a teacher, and comes from a huge family that run the best diner in Carrington Springs. She’s a little more feisty, and outspoken compared to the other two, but she brings a refreshing and realistic feel to the series as whole, she’s that friend that would tell you the truth, in a loving and honest way.
Each woman within herself has very different characteristics and personalities; with each approaching their singleness in different ways, as well as bringing their own different walks of life to the table to help their dear friends. Katie has traits of a type A personality wherein she tends to be organised, efficient and ambitious, but putting her in this box wouldn’t be doing her justice. I related to Katie a little in her being the nurturer of her group, and always looking out for her friends. She has a laid back personality, despite her little quirks, and from what I thought, felt she was the most honest about her thoughts and feelings regarding her singleness. Out of all the girls, Katie seemed to struggle the most in knowing her worth, and realising that being married does not define her – even if it is something she has wanted for her whole life and something that the people around her continuously (and annoyingly) pester her about. At 31, God finally weaves His way through her heart, through Eliza and Ashten, and shows her that she is loved, valued and even though she may feel alone, she isn’t. I think the most important takeaway from Katie in Waiting, that Mangum gives us as the reader, is that community is important and being married/being in a relationship doesn’t define who you are, and waiting for ‘the one’ doesn’t mean being stagnant in your goals, and in life in general – community is important, cherish them and love them, they are your people.
Without giving too much away, I won’t go into too much depth about Eliza and Ashten’s stories, I’ll leave you to read the books and decide for yourself! However, Eliza’s bubbly character and open personality, didn’t really prepare me for her story, it made me fall in love with her a little more. In her book, Once upon Eliza, the past and moving forward are key themes and somehow, Mangum brings such a lighthearted and non-burdening, yet serious feel to such heavy topics. Ashten, on the other hand, is very different to Katie and Eliza, I related to her the most out of the three. My previous impressions of her from Katie and Eliza’s books differed when I got to her book, Happily Ever Ashten. It took me a little while to warm up to her, as well being quite surprised with who she ends up with, so I’ll say the least about this book but I think Mangum does the series justice but ending with Ashten’s story.
Throughout the three books there are the main running themes of singleness, community and marriage. Magnum navigates through these topics expertly, and reminded me of why I admire her so much as a writer – to write about a group of single girls from different walks of life, that are in their early 30s is not an easy task, but she does it so well. Also, creating broadly different characters in such an intimate setting is a skill, and extremely rare in a writer. Compared to most books I’ve read by the same author, there is a tendency for the characters, although different, to have very similar traits as those in a previous book; but, this doesn’t happen with Mangum. I’ve read the majority of her books and novellas, and the differences in the characters is amazing. Yes, there are a few similarities, such as their shared love for coffee, eating out and Jesus, but the differences are more than the similarities. Which, I find so refreshing, because how boring would it be to read a different book with different characters but the foundations and inner workings of the books remaining the same?
This series was so lighthearted and such an easy read (I’m aware I’ve said this multiple times, but when you read Mangum’s books you’ll understand where I’m coming from!). It reminded me of Mangum’s other books, and how effortless it is to fall in love with her characters, as well as how easily she links scripture, everyday life and weighty topics into a (Christian) romance book. I loved reading these stories, considering it took me less than a week to finish all three books, which wasn’t hard as it was so facile to be engrossed into their world and feel as if you’ve been friends with them your whole life.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this series, and Mangum’s other series, too, for those of you that enjoy romance, but also want to get some meaning out of book that isn’t non-fiction. All in all, Mangum’s books have helped me, as a Christian to really think about the little things, as well as the big things when it comes to serving God, including the importance of community. I’d also recommend this series for those of you that aren’t Christians, too – it’s so easy to read, and get to know the characters whilst also giving you space to reflect on your own life, with it also a good series to curl up with after a long day, or during a breezy summer day to escape for a little while. Although this series can never compare to my love for Mangum’s Lauren Holbrook series, it comes a close second and you’ll definitely see me picking them up again. Do check out Mangum’s other series and novellas, which I’ll link here.