What I’m Reading This Week: Last Circle of Love by Lorna Landvik

Why am I reading this book?

I’m reading Last Circle of Love because I met Lorna Landvik, for a second time, at an author’s book talk in April. Lorna is a kind, funny person, and I enjoy listening to her talk about life and writing. When I met her for the first time in 2019, I bought her book Your Oasis on Flame Lake, and I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and their stories. In April, I bought Last Circle of Love, believing I would like it just as much or even more. Turns out I like this book even better. It’s a heartfelt story with interesting and diverse characters who come to life and pull at my heart with their stories..

What is this book about?

The women who belong to the Naomi Circle at All Souls Lutheran have just attended a luncheon at the Prince of Peace. Everything about the Prince of Peace is larger, shinier, newer, more opulent, and richer. But what really bothers the women from All Souls is the glitzy, full-color, professional-looking recipe book the women at Prince of Peace will be selling. The Naomi Circle of women are discouraged because they need a good fundraising idea to help keep All Souls’ doors open.

Someone jokes that the Naomi members should write a book called the ABCs of Erotica. The idea for their book isn’t meant to be pornographic, but rather romantic. The women and men who write pages for the book write about loving gestures, kindness, understanding, and sharing that have brought them closer to their loved ones. Of course, the Naomi Circle of women worry that some church members may think the book will be pornographic, but Pastor Pete, relatively new to the church and more open-minded than the last pastor, gives support to the women to explore the idea.

Will the ABCs of Erotica be the fund-raising savior All Souls needs? Or will the idea divide the church members, causing some to join Prince of Peace Church? Will Pastor Pete be hailed as forward thinking or sent packing?

Why is this book important?

It’s a cozy story with important themes. Many of the main characters are in their sixties, seventies, and eighties, and Landvik portrays them as real people with hopes, dreams, desires, and goals — people who want to embrace life, just like they did when they were young. In Landvik’s story, old people are complicated and vibrant, still trying to figure out life and what’s next for them. They are interesting.

While Last Circle of Love is set in a small fictitious town in Minnesota, the story is filled with a diversity of people and themes about diversity, such as sexual orientation, ageism, and sexism. Landvik’s gentle tale counters intolerance, anger, and ignorance with themes of love, acceptance, open-mindedness, and forgiveness. She delivers an important message with a spoonful of sugar. But more importantly with her novel, she accomplishes what a good story should. Even though we are entertained by mostly upbeat characters and a light-hearted plot, the story makes us think about important issues.

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