It Happens Every Spring is the first in a series of four novels giving the reader a glimpse into various types of relationships: singles, newlyweds, married with kids, empty nesters, and those in their golden years. The authors focus on the various dynamics occurring at different stages in these various types of relationships, and the result is a novel that causes the reader to pause and consider the season of his or her current relationship.
The stories are told from multiple points of view so the reader is empathetic to all of the characters’ circumstances. The setting is the small town of Tranquility, Missouri, where neighbors worry about and take care of their neighbors. It’s closeknit, and the common mode of transportation is a golf cart. The town is very close to Lake of the Ozarks, where multimillion-dollar homes, country clubs and golf courses are used by seasonal people.
Brenda and Steve Hansen are an empty-nester couple adjusting to their new freedom now that all three children are out of the house. Steve dives into his real estate business with full gusto, and Brenda deals with being alone in a large empty house most days and nights. It Happens Every Spring pulls the reader into the center of this relationship and allows us to share in the changing dynamics with no judgment.
Patsy Pringle is single and owns the “Just As I Am” beauty salon, the central gathering spot for everyone in town at one time or another. Patsy is a Christian who cares deeply for her neighbors. She doesn’t gossip and she doesn’t promote gossiping, but her salon is nonetheless Gossip Central. Women come in daily to gather in the small tea room and chat about whomever may have caught their attention the night before.
Pete Roberts is single and new to town. His shop, “Rods-n-Ends,” shares a wall with “Just As I Am” and is also the only spot in town to get gas. His shop sells bait and tackle equipment but is also a full-service shop for just about anything that needs fixing. The commotion he makes when he starts up a chainsaw or weedwhacker is enough to make Patsy have to bite her tongue so as not to lash out in anger. It Happens Every Spring allows the reader to see the individual viewpoints of each of these business owners and wonder if they will ever be able to get along.
The collaboration between nonfiction writer Gary Chapman and fiction author Catherine Palmer is a fantastic pairing. With Chapman’s multi-decade experience as a family and couples counselor, and Palmer’s expertise in writing award-winning fiction, the characters in It Happens Every Spring are people we know, have known, or will most likely know at some point in our lives.
Everyone can enjoy and learn from It Happens Every Spring. The foundation of this novel is taken from The Four Seasons of Marriage by Gary Chapman, and discussion questions are included in the back of the novel for personal contemplation or to be used in a book group.