While I felt Caroline's story turned out well, I wasn't sure the readers and reviewers would agree. I wondered if people felt a once-in-a-life-time change in Barcelona was "over the top."
Would the Cafe scenarios and repairs come across realistic? I had to do quite a bit of research on that part.
Did I show how Caroline was a servant but not a whimp?
When Romantic Times Book Club Review gave me 4.5 Stars, I was thrilled.
On the other hand, there were some aspects I felt really confident in: the head, heart dialogs. The scenes with J.D. and Mitch. Elle.
The symbolism of Caroline keeping the old car as a way of hanging on to her old life.
Jesus visiting her.
The symbol of Caroline praying in a "live oak" tree hoping God was real. Jesus being the Tree of Life. Oak representing humanity. He was holding her all along, she just didn't know it. The tree being a resentation of His Godhead as well as humanity.
The reason she inherited the Cafe in the first place.
I loved the notion of "freely give, freely receive." Once I had a friend who was given a nice car. A few years later he went to sell it and I felt strongly the Lord wanted him to give it away. While the money was to go to his education, I felt the Lord was going to supply more than the price of the car.
He sold the car. But I've always been curious as to what God would've done if he'd given it away.
I wanted to show that with Caroline and how she handled the Cafe. In her humility, God was already blessing her with the Barcelona opportunity.
I loved the scene at her Mom's grave and the one with her brother. It's so important to say good-bye to the past.
I liked the writing believe it or not. This is one of my favorite lines, " The horizon beyond my small oval airplane window is like one of Elle's lowcountry paintings - wild with color and light. Gold and red mixed with fading blue sky, reaching down to the dark line that is earth."
Most of the reader feedback has been good. But a good friend confessed to me the other day, "Rachel, I loved the book, loved the writing, but well, it was painful."
Caroline's journey reminded her of dreams she hadn't achieved. She felt her family had been mediocre and lazy, thus she struggled to do the things she wanted to do.
On the contrary, I saw my friend as a woman zealous for God, who loved her husband and family, loved her church. She was a smart, strong, working woman who'd raised great kids.
But we all have those things we wanted to do, but didn't. I understand. But until we're in the grave, we have a lot of living to do.
I said, "You're not dead yet. Don't quit."
She laughed. "I set the timer and gave myself a few minutes for self-pity."
Got to like that.. set those limits.
Anyway, Caroline's story is about opportunity. But mostly about living the life in front of you, growing where you're planted. Caroline humbly accepted her lot in life, but had the courage to reach out for change when it passed her by.
That's the encouragement of Sweet Caroline. Bloom where you're planted. Believe God had great things for you. Most of all, don't be afraid to reach out for change and opportunity.