Our Comfort Reads: When There Is Hope

Our Comfort Reads
Our Comfort Reads is our own blog feature that Cait and I use to highlight and recommend books that we read when we need a little pick-me-up. Whether we’re overwhelmed with our TBR pile, need a break from a bad run of books or just want something familiar to read that we know will deliver a good story and a happy ending, these are the books we turn to and we hope that you’ll enjoy them too.

This is a new-old comfort read.  I heard about it through one of the HaBO posts at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and thought it sounded so good, went on a treasure hunt until I found a used copy that didn’t cost as much as a third-world country’s GNP.  I was delighted to find this was a book that held up to the memory of the original poster who sought it out and it’s become one of my favorite reads.

When There is HopeWhen There Is Hope

By Jane Goodger
Publisher: St. Martins
Publication Date: May 1, 1996
Genre: Time Travel Romance

Waking up after an accident, the last thing Susan Butler remembered was living in the 1990s, happily married and joyously expecting her first child. Now, suddenly, inexplicably, she is Margaret Johnsbury, the year is 1888, and she is about to find out she is detested not only by her handsome husband, Carter, but by the entire town of Newport.

Goodreads Summary

Susan Butler and her husband Steve are happily preparing for the birth of their baby when she’s tragically killed in a car accident on her way to a doctor’s appointment.  Susan’s spirit isn’t allowed to pass peacefully though – when she wakes up, she’s in a field in someone else’s body in an entirely different time.  She’s disoriented and needs answers but she’ll get no sympathy – this woman that she’s become is universally loathed, especially by her own husband.  For the sunny, friendly Susan, being ostracized simply isn’t acceptable.

Margaret Johnsbury, the woman Susan has become, is an overweight, selfish, rude, arrogant and cuckolding harridan – her complete opposite – and she sets out to change every single thing about her.  She sets up an exercise regime, tries to befriend the staff and convince her husband that she’s a changed woman.  Carter is afraid Margaret’s case of amnesia will wear off and she’ll return to the evil woman she was before and he’s reluctant to let his guard down against this “new” wife of his, no matter how much evidence he sees that she’s not the same.

For the obvious reasons, this is one of those personal growth-relationship big romances and not an exciting action-adventure.  There isn’t even really a bad guy until near the end, unless you count all of the people who hate Margaret and snub her but the conflicts with them are interesting enough to carry the entire book.

I just love Susan – watching her take this ill and unhealthy, detestable woman and turn her into a desirable, kind and beloved wife makes this worth re-reading over and over.  She has wonderful spirit and is stubborn beyond what’s healthy.  Her attempts to make running clothes which shock the heck out of everyone that sees her are hilarious.

Because her transformation is essentially their wooing, Susan and Carter’s romance develops slowly through the book and is tentative and sweet rather than wild and passionate.  When they do come together, it’s because there’s finally trust, finally love and it feels perfect.

I adore epilogues and this has one that explains everything, including Susan’s accident and her ending up in Margaret’s body.  It always makes me tear up a little because it looks back on Margaret/Susan’s life with Carter and the way it all turned out and it just makes such perfect sense.  I just love, love, love it and it makes the re-reading all that much sweeter.




  1. Okay I'm buying this book today! Really nice rec.

  2. This is what I love about memes like this.. If I saw this in the book store there is no way in a million years I'd pick it off the shelf and buy it. Now that I've read your review though, I'll look for next time I'm at the used bookstore!

  3. I have to totally give credit to the HaBO meme at SB too. I'd have never looked at this one either if I picked it up right now but it would absolutely would have been something I'd have read in 1996.I hope you can find copies and try it. 🙂

  4. Found a used copy!

  5. That's wonderful!! You have to let me know what you think about it when you get a chance to read it. 🙂

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