I see from the front matter of another book by Janette Oke, that there is a fourth in this series. It is called, Like Gold Refined. However, I haven't had opportunity to read it yet. I'm grateful for the chance to read these three right one after another. It helped to keep the characters fresh in my mind, and to see what a consistent and artful writer Oke is.
Janette Oke is a prolific author with a number of series to her name, but I discovered something with these that I did not know or notice before; the characters are descendants of the couples from previous books. This series focuses on the developing stages of Virginia, the granddaughter of Marty and Clark, and the daughter of Belinda from the Love Comes Softly Series. I read those so many years ago, I don't recall the details of those stories any more. I do recall they were very popular and sought after back then.
In The Tender Years Virginia has just turned 13, and is finding herself chaffing at the restrictions in her home. Mostly because of her new friendship with Jenny Wood, whose mother deserted her and her father. Virginia wanted to be accepted by Jenny and did things against her conscience to maintain her place. Gradually, through various difficulties, she learns to obey her conscience and becomes more mature, and cares for the soul of her friend.
In A Searching Heart Virginia graduates from high school, and looks forward to going to college where her boyfriend attends. But then she decides to sacrifice and delay her education to help out her older sister, who is ill after child- birth. In what appears to be a dull, stand-still life, she grows more godly and mature within.
Meanwhile, her boyfriend isn't so strong, and Virginia suffers another devastion when he comes home before his fall term to talk with her.
There are some ways here in which I can really identify with Virginia, and I'm sure there are many other good girls, who are in the same position. A burning desire to know and do God's will, but at a loss to know which way to turn. Truly, a searching heart stage.
In A Quiet Strength she marries the grandson of the woman who moved in next door. Jonathan loves horses and has decided to raise them near this town, but the first year is rather tough as he spends his free time building a home for them, and Virginia lives with his grandmother. Eventually this too passes, and she lives on this horse farm with Jonathan, and must deal with the learning experiences of being a young wife and mother.
Jenny comes to visit and brings a surprise. This adds to Virginia's growing strength, although she herself doesn't recognize it until her grandma Marty points it out.
I think many women would love to see their lives unfold and their character develop amd mature as graciously as Virginia's does in this series. These books are a satisfying read just from this emotional, spiritual point of view.
As a writer myself, I found the books to be a clear, simple example of how to develop characters, even ones that would seem ordinary by most other writer's standards. There is a beauty in the simple maturing process of a Christian girl and woman. One that we don't need to apologize for, nor even really to defend. God does that by the fruit such a live bears in what they do, and how they do their deeds.
I have no flesh and blood daughters, but I have dreamed of raising children, and I know these are the kind of books I would try to provide to my daughters. If you have some, I would heartily recommend you purchase this set for your girls. And say, be sure to tell them there are horses in the book too!