Charlene Ann Baumbich’s Divine Appointments follows four employees at a Chicago-based insurance company as they tread the murky social waters of aging, death, relationships, and uncertain futures. After the company breaks the news of employment changes that throws everything into chaos, Josie, Lyle, Marsha, and Barb wonder if they will come through unscathed.
Josie, a consultant for the insurance company, has been single her whole life, without even one serious friend. When she begins her work at the company, she makes more enemies than friends. Lyle, the company’s vice president, finds out Josie’s assignment involves cutting an entire department from the company, including firing Barb, who has worked at the company for more than 20 years. Meanwhile, as employees are cut, Marsha begins to deal with more responsibilities at work and with her bitterness toward her ex-husband, and Lyle and Josie find their mutual attraction confusing.
Divine Appointments, while an entertaining story, might be hard to finish due to its lack of focus on one particular character. Four protagonists make the reader feel split for most of the book, although their interactions and involvements are both believable and tied up smartly at the end. The novel isn’t overtly Christian, meaning the characters don’t become converted. God is mentioned, as is religion and church, but the fundamentals of Christianity, such as forgiveness and trust, are examined as generic qualities. The issue of unyoked believers is mentioned subtly, as well.
Baumbich will keep you entertained, but she might leave you questioning the book’s intent and focus. This book would make a good discussion starter for small groups, families, and spouses who are facing layoffs, financial setbacks or career upheavals. – Caitlin Wilson, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Josie Brooks is not interested in disruption. Everything in her life is organized, minimal, and efficient. A successful business consultant in Chicago with a type-A personality, she ruthlessly identifies and slashes any source of economic wastefulness with complete disregard for the employees themselves. Soon, everyone at Diamond Mutual calls her "The Dragon" as she orders the termination of decent, hardworking people for the sake of profit. Josie's rigid life, however, mysteriously begins to unravel when a strangely alluring snow globe appears at her apartment. Soon afterward, Josie is forced to confront her own flaws and fears, beginning an emotional journey toward love, friendship, mourning, and new beginnings.
A wide range of characters flesh out this latest installment of Baumbich's (Stray Affections) Snow Globe series, most emerging impressively from the narrative. Particularly noteworthy is Baumbich's ability to make Josie likable even at the height of her self-centeredness. Readers familiar with the first book in the series will note that the place, plot, and characters in the second book are all new, but having a second chance is still a central theme.