My take on Robert Whitlow's The Living Room

Don't you hate it when one of your favorite authors comes out with a new book, then it doesn't live up to expectations? 

I was looking forward to Robert Whitlow's latest, The Living Room (published by Thomas Nelson) as I have read all of his books. I'm not going to say I have loved every one (I still get steamed thinking about the ending of Jimmy), but I've liked them or I wouldn't have read everything he's written. His last one, The Choice, was his best. Look up my review on that one.

Like I always tell reviewers though, tell what you didn't like because what you didn't like might be what someone else would enjoy.

Stick with me because I'm going to tell you why I wasn't fond of The Living Room because I think you'll actually be quite fascinated by it.

About the book

Amy Clarke’s dreams are coming true—and that’s the problem.

Legal secretary by day, romance novelist by night, Amy Clarke lives with a precious secret. For years, she has traveled to a holy place in her dreams—a sublime place she calls the Living Room. When she awakes, her faith and energy are supernaturally restored. And when she dreams, she receives vibrant inspiration for her novels.

As she begins to write her third book, the nature of her dreams shifts. Gone are the literary signposts. Instead, her dreams are studded with scenes that foreshadow real life. Before long, the scenes begin to spill over into her waking hours too.

As Amy becomes entangled in a high stakes case at work, her visions take on a dark hue—implicating someone dear to her, causing her to question everything. And convincing her to trust someone with his own shadowy secrets.

Things are not always what they seem. But as fiction, dreams, and real life begin to overlap, Amy must stop dreaming and act to prevent tragedy.

My take:

The main character is an author and through the course of the story shares her experience of the writing process, discussions of what she goes through with her agent, and negotiating publishing contracts. The highs, the lows, the steps to publishing. Secular vs. Christian publishing houses.

There are a lot of readers who are very fascinated with all of that. People are very interested in the process. Great insight into the industry! I should pass this book along to all my friends and family who wonder what it is I do for a living.

However, that's my daily life and I found it a complete and total drag. I know about all of that, so what I was thinking the whole time is, "this seems like it could be the last book of a publishing contract from an author disgruntled with his publisher." I know nothing about that, and he's probably not, that's just how some of it came across to me.

That was my biggest dislike that could absolutely be something readers would love.

See? That's why I say share what you don't like.

I also didn't like the female characters. Amy is a very meek person who runs her every thought by her husband for every single decision. I believe there are some choices that even a married person can make on their own. She kind of let everyone run over her. Her husband wasn't a bad guy in any respect, but she seemed an abused woman.

Her daughter, Megan, is a 14 year old mouthy teenager who is the direct opposite of her mother. That girl needed to be disciplined in the worst way because she ran the house.

Another annoyance was the multiple references throughout the entire book of Amy's book titles. And they were long titles. It was sort of like name dropping for books that did not exist.

The part with one of Megan's teachers could have been developed better. That part of the story was also resolved much too quickly when the climax of that particular conflict occurred. And someone should have known better.

About the author: 

Robert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina.  

For more about Robert and his other books, visit

I received a copy of The Living Room from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.