Friday, February 2, 2024


Raspberries and Vinegar (Farm Fresh #1)Raspberries and Vinegar by Valerie Comer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christian fiction

Josephine Shaw: complex, yet singleminded. A tiny woman with big ideas and, some would say, a mouth to match. But what does she really know about sustainable living as it relates to the real world? After all, she and her two friends are new to farming.

Zachary Nemesek is back only until his dad recovers enough to work his own land again. When Zach discovers three helpless females have taken up residence at the old farm next door, he expects trouble. But a mouse invasion proves Jo has everything under control. Is there anything she can’t handle? And surely there’s something sweet beneath all that tart.

Raspberries and Vinegar is the first novel in the Farm Fresh Romance series which sees a group of young women purchase an old farm in northern Idaho together with the purpose of growing their own food and proving to those around them that they can make a difference. It is a story of living sustainably on the land and focusing on real, local food from a Christian point-of-view. It doesn't pad the issues nor preach about them, but allows the characters the freedom to grapple with environmentalism as believers.


I remembered enjoying one of Valerie Comer's books several years ago, so I decided to start at the beginning of her Farm Fresh series. While Raspberries and Vinegar may be a romance, it's so much more. Emotions range all the way from humor to heartbreak. Faith elements are gently woven throughout - strong faith, loss of faith, and faith struggle in light of tragedy.

In light of today's culture, it's interesting to see a book published in 2013 focus on holistic, sustainable living. As the book's description states, it is a story of living sustainably on the land and focusing on real, local food from a Christian point-of-view. I like that. This is something I can get behind. Jo's character initially comes across as outspoken, pushy, my way or the highway. But she gradually changes as the story progresses, which I suspect is what the author intended. The story is neither preachy nor timid; rather, it allows the reader to think. And I learned interesting things along the way, such as "Holistic simply means looking at the whole system and treating it as a unit."

I liked Zach and Jo very much, and enjoyed the growth of their relationship. Because of the differences in their faith and worldviews, Jo couldn't see a future for them. The only negative for me is that feeling was stated a little too often. Once or twice and I've got it.

One of my favorite quotes is these words from Zach's mother to Jo: "The fate of the entire world isn't on your young shoulders. Relax a bit, and let God be God."

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