“A beautifully moving story of the challenges and choices in life, Emily's Hope is a portrait of two women whose divergent paths lead them to very different concepts of womanhood, and yet which are, nonetheless, paths intrinsically intertwined.
Emily Greer, an adolescent of the 1970's, begins a project on genealogy for her high school English class that becomes a family mystery which will profoundly intersect with her own journey in life. Although Catholic, the teenage Emily supports, if not fully shares, many of the commonly-held views of her generation regarding sex, marriage and procreation - views which, seemingly, connect her to her independent-minded and enigmatic great-grandmother, Katherine. But after meeting and falling in love with a devout young man she's introduced to by a pen pal in Canada, both her relationship to God and her understanding of the Church's teaching on marriage and family grow, as the couple's love grows from bloom to mature flower. In contrast, Katherine's troubled life and relationships are seen to lead her further from emotional and spiritual fulfillment.
In Emily's Hope, author Ellen Gable presents one of the most misunderstood, and sometimes even contentious, of Catholic teachings - the life-affirming and sacramental understanding of marriage and family that includes Natural Family Planning. Yet rather than simply "instruct" the reader on these teachings, she compassionately weaves the ideas into a touching story of two very real, everyday women, who, one hundred years apart, struggle with difficulties and suffer losses similar to what all human beings face in every era. Emily, who learns that cherishing sexuality as a participation in God's creative power is not a burden or sacrifice that smothers natural desires, but is instead an understanding that transforms the physical relationship into an image of divine love in the very act of respecting its fundamental purpose, discovers the joy and fulfillment her great-grandmother never does in her attempt to "free" women, including herself, from the perceived shackles of womanhood. Despite their very different paths, however, Emily never loses her sympathetic connection to Katherine, and when at last the mystery of her great-grandmother's life is solved, it reveals the beauty of God's mysterious workings in Emily's own and shows how we are participants not only in His plan for our personal salvation, but also in His desire to offer it to all His children.
A highly recommended novel, not only for those seeking to better understand Catholic teaching on marriage and family, but for any reader who enjoys inspiring and deeply spiritual historical fiction.