Ella Barron meets David Rainwater in the midst of the Depression in the summer of 1934. She is busy running her boardinghouse in Texas with efficiency and precision. She also cares for her special needs son, Solly. People tell Ella that Solly needs to be institutionalized, but she wants to keep him close; she wants to find a way to connect with him. Dr. Kincaid brings David Rainwater to Ella’s boardinghouse. He understands she has a room available, and Mr. Rainwater needs a place to stay. Mr. Rainwater immediately accepts the empty room. Dr. Kincaid tells Ella privately that Mr. Rainwater is dying, with only a short time to live.
Mr. Rainwater is interested in Ella and the other people in the boardinghouse and quickly becomes a part of their lives, though Ella tries to hold herself apart. Soon, Mr. Rainwater is helping the poor and oppressed in town. He also begins working with Solly. His kindness and concern for those around him starts to soften Ella’s well-protected heart. The town bully, Conrad Ellis, does not approve of Mr. Rainwater’s engagement in community affairs. As romantic tension between Ella and David grow, tension of a more sinister kind begins to develop in the community. Ella starts to fear for the people she loves.
Rainwater, a captivating novel of love and redemption, is completely different from Sandra Brown’s previous works. It was inspired by her grandfather’s experiences in the 1930s. Ms. Brown’s gift of catching the reader up in the actions and feelings of her characters is alive and well in Rainwater. If this novel doesn’t become a movie, this reviewer will be surprised.