Publisher: Carolyn Astfalk
Publication Date: October 8, 2016
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Carolyn Astfalk lives in Hershey, Pennsylvania where the scent on the morning breeze carries either chocolate or manure depending on wind direction and atmospheric conditions. A Pittsburgh native, Carolyn carries her Yinzer card with pride, having interned at Pittsburgh’s iconic TV and radio stations KDKA and WDVE. She is a graduate of Duquesne University, where she majored in Latin and Broadcast Journalism. A cradle Catholic, Carolyn was raised mainly at church basement rummage sales and other parish-sponsored events. She worked her way up to “pup girl” at weekly Bingo and even served as a parish organist for several years. Having reached the apex of parish ministry, she moved to the state capital to advance her churchy career. Carolyn served as communications director and registered lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference for a decade, advocating for religious liberty; prolife, pro-family issues, Catholic education, and healthcare, among others. Since then, she has been a stay-at-home mom to her four children. Most days she can be found wiping up spills, folding laundry, and tapping furiously on her laptop.
There are several strengths to this novel. The first are the characters. Astfalk does such an amazing job creating realistic characters. They are fully fleshed out. Dan Malone is a man trying to put his life back together. He hates who he was, and the things he has done. He is working hard, rebuilding his business and his name. By a chance encounter he meets Emily Kowalski, at his Christmas tree lot. They both discover eventually that they have feelings for each other, but because of their own personal struggles they keep messing it up. Dan has become friends with Emily’s brother, and is called uncle by his kids. Dan does not feel worth of Emily because of his past, a past that keeps reeling it’s ugly head.
Astfalk also does an incredible job capturing the human condition. Dan’s angst over his past sins, and his sense of self worth. Emily’s self doubt. There is so much to rave about with this novel.
I could hardly put this book down. It is a true page turner. You will find yourself drawn in, and the characters will become like friends, and you will find yourself invested in what is happening to and with them. It is a very realistic read.
This is an excellent read. It is a wonderful Christian novel, with a cautionary tale, and a story of redemption and recovery. I am very thankful I gave it and read and I am sure you will enjoy it if you give it a chance.
Dan Malone comes into the story with some baggage. Mistakes from his past and rejection from the woman he thought he loved has built a wall around his heart that blinds him to the possibility of a happy life. Then he meets Emily. Smart, strong-willed and virtuous, Emily Kowalski is tired of waiting for life to happen to her. After learning that the only boy she’s ever loved is about to marry—and after a quart of ice cream and a prayer--she’s ready for a change. Dan and Emily meet in a Christmas tree lot. And Emily’s heart knows at once that this man is special. But it takes Dan awhile to feel worthy of another chance, especially when his past keeps coming back to remind him of his failures.
With flawed but loveable characters, this story delves into the real-life consequences of the choices we make in relationships. It brings out the importance of offering and accepting forgiveness, and gives hope to those who find it hard to let go of past mistakes and to forgive one’s self. Ornamental Graces is a story of love, faith, and passion that you won’t want to miss. This story will take you on an emotional rollercoaster and leave you with hope.