Read Then Came Heaven by LaVyrle Spencer Online


Can love survive a shattering loss? A grief-stricken widower learns to open his heart again in LaVyrle Spencer's touching and emotionally charged new novel. Late summer, Browerville, Minnesota, 1950: Life is just about perfect for Eddie Olczak. A devoted husband and father, a man of unshakable faith, he derives intense pleasure from the life he's built with his beloved wifCan love survive a shattering loss? A grief-stricken widower learns to open his heart again in LaVyrle Spencer's touching and emotionally charged new novel. Late summer, Browerville, Minnesota, 1950: Life is just about perfect for Eddie Olczak. A devoted husband and father, a man of unshakable faith, he derives intense pleasure from the life he's built with his beloved wife, Krystyna, and their two daughters, and is the dedicated handyman for St. Joseph's, the Catholic church that is the cornerstone of Browerville life. But when a tragic accident cuts Krystyna's life short, Eddie is sure his heart is broken forever. Krystyna was everything to him--his true companion. As friends and relatives rally around the family in the dark days and weeks that follow, there is one person who is unable to express what the loss of Krystyna means to her.Sister Regina, the girls' teacher at St. Joseph's school, has always felt a special affinity for the family. Yet her religious vows prevent her from becoming too close to them, even in their time of need. In the past, Sister Regina had bristled under the constraints of the order, but always reaffirmed her commitment through prayer and contemplation. Now the strict rules of the Benedictine sisterhood, which once gave her life a sense of meaning, chafe at her more insistently. Time passes, and Sister Regina and Eddie Olczak continue to cross paths. Deep inside, they realize there is something between them--more than a kinship, a connection that somehow goes beyond their shared love of Krystyna and the girls. Thrilled--and secretly frightened--they both must summon the courage to look within their hearts and make their own choices. Powerful, moving, and deeply affecting, Then Came Heaven is a celebration of love and tenderness, a book LaVyrle Spencer's fans are sure to cherish long after the last page is turned....

Title : Then Came Heaven
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780399143694
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 332 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Then Came Heaven Reviews

  • Jan130
    2019-02-19 09:47

    Another beautiful read from this talented writer. I've recently been rereading some of her books and I'd forgotten what a quality writer she is. The characters are believable, the secondary characters are wonderful, the settings are evoked so realistically, and the stories tug on your heartstrings. The ones with historical settings don't seem to have dated either, which IMO is quite an achievement for books written in the 1990s.At the start of the book, Ms Spencer explained that this was to be the last book she would write before retiring from writing forever. (It was published in 1997). I haven't checked whether or not she ever made a comeback, but I assume this was her last book. She also explains that one of the characters, Krystyna, who dies right at the start of the book but is frequently remembered, is partly based on Spencer's own mother. And, set in a small rural US farming community in 1950, the details that ring so true undoubtedly come from Ms Spencer's own childhood.On the surface, it's an unlikely theme for a romance, but it's told beautifully and you fall in love with the characters. Sister Regina is a young Catholic nun who teaches a combined grade 3/4 class at the school attached to the church. She is a wonderful and devoted teacher, and also has a deep and sincere faith. But still, she struggles with some of the vows she took as a nun, especially the vow of obedience. Regina is often frustrated by her limiting life in the convent, and the lack of freedom. So, at the start of the book, although Regina never questions her faith, she is already questioning her dedication to life as a nun.Then when the mother of two of her students dies in an accident, Regina is angered and frustrated that she is not, as a nun, allowed to express her sympathy in the natural way she feels it. e.g she is not allowed to hug the grieving little girls etc.This whole first section of the book had me feeling weepy. As a reader, you are so drawn in, and you feel the pain of the family who have lost Krystyna, the woman who was the centre of their life. I'm not usually a fan of angsty, weepy type books, or books where characters die, but in this case it's about those who are moving on after the loss. And you care about these characters right from the start. As time goes on, Regina and the widowed Eddie start to fall in love. It's a long, slow-burn type of story. Their love is genuine, but it's never sleazy or inappropriate. It's no spoiler to reveal that Regina leaves the sisterhood, because it's obvious from the start that's what will happen. And of course eventually they do get their HEA. But it's a very satisfying read. And the book is a picture-perfect moment in time. It's set less than 100 years ago, but it may as well have been much longer because the life was so different from today. The hard but satisfying life of the Polish immigrant farmers and their big families, the devoutness of the community, but the very human failings that we all have, in spite of our best efforts.So, although it seems like an unlikely theme - an ex-nun falling in love with a widow with two daughters - it's really a wonderful read. And there are so many cr*ppy books out there, it's great to read one by an author at the top of her game.

  • Kacey
    2019-02-27 10:40

    This book introduced me to LaVyrle; how sad I was when I learned she was no longer writing. This is a wonderful, wonderful love story.... especially meaningful to those who were raised Catholic. It is set in small town Minnesota. I purchased the book for a vacation read during a Minnesota vacation, only to find that it was set very near to where I was. She is a treasure. Love your work, LaVyrle.

  • Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
    2019-03-20 11:47

    Probably my favorite of all LaVyrle Spencer's books. She has completely captured the 1950's small town America that is sheltered and nourished by the Catholic church. The idyllic time, the safe community, the devotion to faith and family.LaVyrle also captures the grief and the sorrow of losing a beloved spouse and mother. The feelings evoked by her writing are real. Eddie is too good to be true, but a wonderful character. Sister Regina is fantastic and her metamorphosis from nun to woman is terrific. Even as she questions her vocation and makes the decision of whether or not to leave it, never is the Catholic church negatively treated. Instead, we see a real introspection of a woman who listens to the voice of God and pursues His path for her.Truly a charming, delightful read. One I like reading again and again.

  • Claudia
    2019-03-05 16:41

    Esto es LaVyrle Spencer en su máxima expresión, una novela adorable y tan humana que a pesar del tiempo transcurrido desde que se publicó se siente muy cercana.

  • Ashley
    2019-03-02 09:23

    2.5 Stars.This is definitely not a terrible book. I liked it. I enjoyed it. However, I had issues with the development of the romance between Sister Regina and Eddie. I did not find it realistic. At times it felt rushed and out of no where. However, this could have been due to the fact that novel was set in the 1950s.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-18 14:35

    This final work of Spencer’s definitely reads different than her normal, gentler and more settled than dramatic and emotional, liked I’ve been used to from her. Not really a bad thing but I think I missed that high dramatic content from this “good-bye” book from her.I liked the characters well enough. The leads were thoroughly portrayed and three-dimensional. I liked how Spencer went into detail on how Eddie dealt with his grief over his sudden loss and his struggle to cope with suddenly being a single parent. Regina’s struggle with her vocation and her quiet rebellion were vividly portrayed as well.Their relationship was sweet and very gentle. There is no sudden upheaval or “lighting out of the sky” attraction. Their realization that they are feeling more for each other than parent/teacher and friends was a tender slide into being. The whole forbidden “loving a nun” thing never really came into being like I was expecting. Yet, there was some repercussions but nothing I would expect from such a situation. Still, a very loving romance.The author put a lot of effort into setting and overall atmosphere than usual. The setting of small town 1950s Americana almost becomes a character itself. The reader gets a real sense for how close knit a community this little town is: everyone knows everyone, doors stay unlocked, children are looked after communally, and people pitch in like crazy when a sudden tragedy strikes.It’s this setting where things go a smidge downhill for this book. I think the author spent so much time establishing the setting and telling the story of the community itself, that she lost the sense for Eddie and Regina. Their story got lost in the shuffle of community, and I was sad for that loss. Maybe it was because this was the author’s last book and was based on her hometown, she was trying to give it homage. I don’t know. Still a bummer…For a last hurrah, this book lacked a bit. The main relationship and the characters were sweet and engaging. The story of a community in tragedy, banding together to support one of its own, was also uplifting. But the balance between the romance and this secondary story was out of whack. The romance got lost in the shuffle sometimes and that frustrated me. Not a bad book, but not the author’s best, either.

  • Dennis Mitton
    2019-02-27 11:32

    Then Came Heaven is just about as far as I can get from my normal reading but at the prodding of my mother – fascinated at how it portrays life as she grew up – I gave it a go. I’m not familiar with the genre but the book was pleasant, inoffensive, readable, and entertaining. All without the slightest shred of depth or development. It’s like an outline, penciled out with plot and characters, with linking dialogue scribbled in to connect the dots.And that’s too bad. There is plenty of good stuff here. Why was the lead character so driven at his job as the church caretaker? Why did the young nun struggle so with her chosen career after the death of the lead’s wife? And how – really? – did the young nun move so sveltely in a single night from pedestal topping Madonna to the naked, embracing, and openly sexual wife? Now there’s a novel for you.The story presents life in small town mid-twentieth century America in an idealistic way. The families are all recently from the old country, all know each other, all eat the same foods, and all life centers around the central Catholic Church. I know these towns. They are wonderful places. Unless you hail from another part of the world. Or go to that other church. Or don’t fit in in any of a hundred ways. Then life can be something less than idyllic.But I enjoyed the story. It’s good for a few hours of entertainment. Don’t expect much more.

  • Barbara M
    2019-03-14 11:25

    LaVyrle Spencer's last book as she retired from writing. This one is set in her old hometown (Browerville MN) and she tells about her trip back to the town and the names she uses in the novel in Author's Note at the beginning of the book. The population of the town is small, everyone knows or is related to everyone else. The population is largely polish Catholic and the St. Joseph's church is a central part of their lives. The story starts out with a terrible accident as a car, driven by Krystyna Olczak is hit by a train at a crossing. Krystyna is described as a young (late 20's) wife and mother of two little girls, and a nearly perfect person. When someone who is well-loved by many dies suddenly like that, they are often raised to near sainthood and that is a theme that is overworked in this book. However, there is plenty of tension and confilct in the story and the further you get into the book, the more you feel for these characters. However, sometimes the resolution is just too easy. It is, after all, a romance and Spencer is good at this so you may find yourself misty-eyed in spite of yourself. I'm not sure how many readers without the Catholic background would understand how well the turmoil that is experienced by Sister Regina is described. A good story.

  • kim
    2019-02-24 13:34

    I'd give this a 3-1/2 if that were possible. I liked it. LaVyrle Spencer's books are always interesting and this was no exception, but I would not class it as one of her best. The story begins on a late summer day, when a train and a car race to the crossing, and the car loses. THe driver, Krystina Olczak, is killed instantly. In this small, very Catholic town in 1950, Krystina is close to a saint; a perfect mother, a perfect wife, a perfect daughter & sister, and a perfect parishioner. The tragedy hits the town hard. She leaves behind 2 motherless little girls, a heartbroken sister who has been like a second mother to the girls, and a grief-stricken husband, as well as a young nun who questions God's wisdom in taking Krystina and her choice to serve as a nun. Sister Regina is forbidden by Holy Law to show any real feelings towards the children or Mr. Olczak. In the meantime, Krystina's sister, Irene, struggles with feelings she has always had for her brother-in-law, but kept suppressed. At times, especially near the beginning, the story has a bit of a 'Sound of Music' feel to it. A little bit predictable, and comes together a bit too easily at the end, but a good story anyway.

  • Theresa
    2019-03-18 15:32

    It’s 1950 in Browerville, Minnesota, Eddie Olczak and his wife, Krystyna, have a wonderful life together with their two elementary school-age daughters. Then, their world is turned upside-down when Krystyna is killed in a car-train accident.At the local Catholic school, Sister Regina is the Olczak girls teacher and she is the one who has to break the news to his two young daughters.We follow Eddie and his family deal with their grief over the loss of their wife, mother, daughter and sister. At the same time, Sister Regina’s grief over her death is making her question her vows as a Benedictine nun even more.As Eddie and Sister Regina deal with their grief, they also find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other.This is the last novel LaVyrle Spencer wrote before her retirement (per the notes in the book.) The story is lovely and really drew me into the lives of both Eddie and Sister Regina. I was initially drawn to reading the story because it takes place in Minnesota, but I have to list this among one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

  • Jessica
    2019-03-13 09:37

    I really thought I'd already given this one a read since I love LaVyrle Spencer, this book has been on my shelf for years now and I was sure that I had read all her novels. But nope, as I read it I realized that only the first few pages were familiar. Which makes sense - they were enough to make me want to put the book down. Thank goodness my love of LaVyrle Spencer's writing outweighs my lack of love for this particular novel of hers.Then Came Heaven is the story of Eddie, whose wife Krystyna dies in the first pages of the novel, and Sister Regina. He is the custodian at the church and school where her work is. She is the nun who teaches his daughters, who is closest to them and who the family turns to in their need. Sounds like The Sound of Music, doesn't it? Who couldn't love it?It took a good 200+ pages for me to get into this book. I'm not sure why, since I love LaVyrle Spencer and I love The Sound of Music. Love + Love should = More Love! Sadly it wasn't the case here. The last 100 or so pages made up for it enough to give Eddie and Jean 3 out of 5 stars.

  • Anne Holly
    2019-03-01 15:24

    I read this for the first time about 12 years ago, while still living in Halifax. It was this book, in fact, that prompted me to write my own first novel since childhood - not the book itself, really, but the touching afterword in which the author discusses her retirement. For some reason, I was so touched, I decided to write. The rest, as they say, is history.Re-reading this, I don't know that I loved it as much as I did that first time. This time, the rapidity of the whole situation bothered me more - for a death/remarriage and dissolving vows and marrying, etc, it seemed pretty quick. But, it still moved me, and I still like these characters, and this book, quite a lot. It's evocative of a time, and a place, and a faith central to the author's life, and this shows - even glows - throughout the book, and it makes for a very nice finish to a lovely career.Still hanging on to it, and will likely re-read it again.

  • Jeanne
    2019-03-03 17:35

    In a small town in Minnesota a loving wife and mother tries to beat a train and is killed. Her husband, Eddie and her daughters Ann and Lucy are devastated. She has been a loyal Catholic, helping the parish with food, rides, and many other kind deeds. One of the nuns, Sister Regina, is so sad for the children and their father. As Sister Regina tries to regain her vows as a nun, she is having second thoughts about whether she should seek dispensation of her vows. When she sees that she can no longer be a nun, and goes through the process to become free. She finds she has feeling for Eddie and his daughters, and he has feelings for her. So as all good love stories, this one has a happy ending, too. This being LaVryle Spencers last book, I am sorry not to have any more of her books to read, but I enjoyed the ones she did write. Thank you LaVryle for many happy reading hours.

  • Sara Pauff
    2019-03-15 10:44

    Sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned, comforting love story. That's Then Came Heaven. No gimmicks, no bells & whistles, just the kind of small town characters you would find in an old Hollywood film and a story with a happy ending. It has its cheesy moments and its teary moments (you owe me a box of tissues for that first 100 pages, LaVyrle), but overall, it was one of those books that I really looked forward to coming home and reading at the end of the day -- which hasn't happened in a while for me. The love story bears a shocking resemblance to the nun-doctor romance in Call the Midwife, so if you're a fan of that, it's a good bet you'll like this book. My only qualm was that I wish Irene had gotten a happy ending too, because I felt really bad for her at the beginning of the novel and like Eddie says, she deserves it.

  • Suzanne
    2019-02-28 14:34

    I love this book. Though I am an atheist now, I was raised a strict Roman Catholic with an aunt for a nun and two cousins were priests. I went to Catholic school up until 8th grade so I can really relate to a lot of this book. The way the author describes the emotions of these people is so realistic that I feel like I'm there with them, and I ache for the people left behind when Krystyna dies--although I always wonder why she raced that train when it's clear she couldn't make it from the engineers' POV. Anyway, a beautiful story that, as all of her books do, works out to a wonderful and believable ending. I have read and own all of her books and this was the last one I read in order this time... until the next time that I pick them up again.

  • Samm Seals
    2019-03-01 12:30

    easy read however, the first third is somewhat sad dealing with the loss of the young mother. it takes perseverance to get to the heart of the plot. story is set in a northern Minnesota tiny town that supports the surrounding farms. families are large and close relationships round out the reason for the the point this is a story about the Catholic religion and how it governs tradition and lifestyles. surprising to me that the church didn't react negatively to the book. the author retired after this book ending 20 years of writing. maybe it was a statement. I'm sure I would enjoy her other books and plan to find some of them.

  • Emily
    2019-02-23 15:39

    This was a beautifully told story of loss and love. The setting is in a small Minnesota town where everyone knows everyone but in a way where the sense of community is strong and people take care of each other. Deeply religious, there are strong Catholic undertones and the Catholic school classes are still taught by nuns. Part of the story was told from a nun's perspective and told about how the meaningfulness and power of Catholicism, but also how parts of the religion did not seem to make much sense. Having been raised Catholic in a small town, parts of the book really resonated with me. I recommend it to anyone seeking a feel-good read and wanting to remember days of simpler times.

  • Shannon Hiner
    2019-03-09 10:38

    This book was amazing. I am so glad that I gave it a chance. It was so touching, just tore me up into little bits before putting me back together as a whole new person.I probably cried through 3/4 of the books, and now I have a salt deficiency in my body, but it was worth it.The book also convinced me thoroughly that I could never be a nun. It IS a very religious book, but since I am a devout Catholic this didn't bug me in the least, rather it made the experience more enjoyable.I loved all the characters, and felt my heart pull for every single one.This is not a light reading book, but I am supremely glad that it crossed my path.

  • Mindy Mcc
    2019-03-04 13:23

    I had found one of her books in a garage sale and read it. It was good, I liked her writing style so I picked this one in a library search. It turned out to be the last book she wrote before she decided to retire in 1997. It was an ironic pick... she grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and everything about everybody. In a Catholic community of old school traditions and old school beliefs. She created this sweet love story around a young Catholic nun questioning her vocation- none of the story was based in fact but I am sure happened more than once. I like how she developed the story around the beliefs of the people involved and kept them true and pure til the end.

  • Pygmy
    2019-02-22 12:23

    Rather boring, and also made me flashback to some old religious rage that I felt when I watched a movie about Saint Therese in college. The whole "asking forgiveness when you've done nothing wrong" and "submitting with obedience" to hypocrites and self-righteous asshattery makes my blood boil. Feels like a load of man-made rules set up just to ensure you fail, but hey, what do I know. ~__~In any case, the whole point of the novel was to show how a nun felt compelled to leave, and I agreed with her wholeheartedly, but...otherwise, meh.

  • Marleen
    2019-03-11 09:22

    This is an updated review and even if this was not one of my favorite books by LaVyrle Spencer, who, for me, is truly a gifted romance author, this is still a lovely and very tender read.The characters, Sister Regina/Jean Potlocki and Eddie Olczak are wonderfully endearing and felt very genuine. I liked that this is set in the 1950ies, and life was more simple then, and I liked how the author was able to tell this love story with so much reverence and dignity. This was a very touching read by a talented author.

  • Catherine
    2019-03-13 09:22

    A wonderful story of a simpler time where family, neighbors and church were central to a community. The most difficult part about this novel was Mrs. Spencer's writing to her readers she was retiring and we could no longer enjoy her stories. I am from the area where many of her stories were written and while visiting the town she had resided in, a local resident said she no longer lives there (Hasting, Minnesota). I hope someday she may consider writing again, otherwise I will continue to enjoy the ones she written.

  • Jacqueline
    2019-03-12 09:27

    took place in 1950. I had read this before but had mostly forgotten it. It is about a man whose wife is killed. He works at the Catholic Church and school as a janitor and falls in love with a nun who falls in love with him. The love part was pretty low key. It also started to happen only 2 months after the wife he loved so much died. It seemed a little soon to me. Still a pleasant enough book.

  • Lynn Smith
    2019-03-09 13:17

    I loved this story of an ordinary man coping with grief carrying on after the death of his wife for the sake of his children and of Sister Regina's spiritual conflict and affection for Eddie's girls and growing feelings for Eddie himself. This remains a favourite of mine and is a definite keeper. It remains so disappointing that this was her last novel with her taking the decision to retire as a writer. I miss the novels she has not written in the past nearly 20 years.

  • Kate
    2019-03-04 10:40

    It has been close to 20 years since I've read a romance novel and though I should likely be secretive about reading "Then Came Heaven", I feel no shame. All of the characters (aside from Sister Mary Charles) are immensely likable, and it was the perfect escapist novel for me to read before bed while working on a major research project. No bodice ripping cheese here.

  • Susan
    2019-03-01 10:25

    This is Spencer's last book and I had not read it before. I have read most of her books in the past. I must say it is a delightful book and she is a wonderful writer. It just seems to me that I have been reading so many great novels recently that I found this little romance just too predictable. Nice story though.

  • Lana
    2019-02-22 10:46

    I read this book several too many moons ago and LOVED it. I keep thinking I need to get a new copy and read it again. I was drawn into this love story almost before I knew what hit me. I hadn't quit reeling and grieving for Krystyna when I saw the first sparks fly between Eddie and Sister Regina. It was subtle, then suddenly it wasn't. I have GOT to get a copy of this book. One of my favorites!

  • Wendy
    2019-03-18 16:19

    This book is a good old-fashioned love story but, of course, not without its ups and downs. I have loved most of LaVyrle Spencer's books and this one was no exception. A small Town, Catholic community, is the setting, and I plan to pass this book on to my childhood friend who is Catholic. I'm sure she will picture herself in many places in the book.

  • Addie
    2019-02-24 16:28

    This is a book I like a lot. I read it when I was about 13 during the height of my wanting to be a nun phase. The love and struggles of the main character Regina always effect me very strongly. It is about her journey of discovery about what identifies our spiritual worth in the Kingdom, and yes it is also a love story.

  • Julie
    2019-02-27 09:44

    I bought this in hardback because I'm a big fan of Spencer's and this book didn't disappoint. It's the kind of love story I really enjoy and Spencer does her usual fantastic job of making the reader feel like they live in the story and know the characters. This is one that will stay on my shelf and maybe even be read a couple of times.