When Calls the Heart (2013)

Some of my most favorite childhood memories are of winter nights when my family read books aloud together. There was everything from C.S. Lewis to Janette Oke. It’s no surprise that when the Hallmark Channel undertook some of Janette’s most beloved novels, I was first in line to see them. Now following the somewhat disappointing Love Comes Softly series, they’ve tackled her Canadian West novels.  

Young Beth Thatcher (Poppy Drayton) has only ever wanted one thing; to make a difference by becoming a teacher. After earning her teaching certificate, Beth’s cultured upbringing assumes she’ll get a post not far from her home in the east only to instead be given a posting in the rugged mining town of Coal Valley. When indecision over the post plagues her along with her sister’s taunting she wouldn’t survive she finds her Aunt Elizabeth’s journal, and life suddenly changes. Reading about the life of Elizabeth (Maggie Grace), Beth slowly begins to learn more about the aunt she never knew… 

Leaving her Eastern life to become a teacher in the unforgiving frontier, Elizabeth Thatcher faces the harsh realities of adjusting to a new place without the amenities of home, but with love for her students and all the joy they bring to her life, Elizabeth adjusts. Then she meets Wynn Delaney (Stephan Amell), a handsome Mountie whose courage and kind attention to Elizabeth slowly makes her rethink what she thought she always wanted.

Much like Janette’s popular Love Comes Softly series, this foursome of novels was once a favorite. I like that it was so different than the ‘Love’ saga and if memory serves correctly I was always fond of Elizabeth. Of course, the leading man being in uniform had nothing to do with my attraction either – after all, it’s not like I have a thing for noble guys who “serve and protect” or anything like that. Really, I don’t. Learning who had been cast in this telefilm was also another form of temptation since I’ve seen Amell (Arrow) and Grace (Taken) in prior roles that I’d respected; now they brought to life the charming characters of Wynn and Elizabeth Delaney splendidly (needless to say, I’ll avoid gushing) along with the rest of the cast which includes newcomer Drayton (who was an easily lovable heroine) Cheri Lunghi and briefly, Lori Loughlin.
When Calls the Heart Stephen Amell

The closer the release of this 2-hour film came, the more conflicting news there was about it. If you’re confused by there being not one but two “Elizabeth Thatcher’s” in the story, never fear, you aren’t seeing double. Here are the facts of this Michael Landon Jr. script. Instead of being a one-time telefilm, this was actually the launch (a pilot film) for an upcoming original series on Hallmark Channel. Set to premiere in 2014, the series (also titled When Calls the Heart) is not only going to recast its primary cast, its main story line will be chronicling Elizabeth Thatcher’s name sake; here Elizabeth and Wynn’s story is told through flashbacks and Beth is the girl we follow in the "present" timeline. To confess, I thought said evocations were sweet and timed nicely however as a girl who was expecting to watch Elizabeth and Wynn’s story come to life, a part of me was disappointed.

That being said, perhaps this is better since, now I won’t be able to count on the series following beloved novels (just the same, I expect some things will be dealt with as a kind of “throwback” to the novels) religiously. There is also a sense of admiration I have for this change; it’ll be fun to watch a new saga unfold, and we won’t be able to predict by flipping through the pages of a novel.  

What is charismatic about this script was the unexpected bouts of humor – it adds some sass and permits more personality. Then there is the “missing” element; the romance. Sure, there are some great pairings however because of limited screen time, we never feel swept away by the love story. Beth I can forgive because unless I miss my guess she’ll be dealing with plenty of romantic angst, however assuming that the Delaney’s story is over, it’d have been nice to be gifted a more complete picture of their story rather than focusing on Beth. The pretty costumes make up for any minor quibbles though some of the details are “too big” or “gaudy” for the otherwise simple albeit pretty dresses. Adding atmosphere are the shots of countryside and the script isn’t half bad.

If you like sweet prairie romance or fiction, this movie is for you. The ending is surprisingly ambiguous however given this being the origins of a series, I totally understand that and considering that frame, it’s almost necessary to leave viewer’s wanting so much more.  

CONTENT: In veiled references, a man hints that he’d be willing to allow for certain working privileges if a woman were to sleep with him; a woman assumes a married man is flirting with her. There are some pranks played between siblings [poison ivy, setting mice loose] and a stagecoach is robbed without much fuss. The film is rated TVPG.


  1. Hey Rissi!
    I haven't commented on here for forever.
    I am looking forward to this movie:)

    1. Ella!!! Hello, hello. It's lovely to "see" you over here again. Hope things are going well with you. :)

      Yay! Hope you enjoy the film - it was a sweet prairie story.

  2. Replies
    1. It was really sweet, Juju! Hope you enjoy it. :)

  3. Oh my word, I am literally FREAKING OUT!! I didn't know they were making a movie from those books!!! They're one of my favorite series and Janette Oke has been one of my all-time favorite authoresses for years! She and I were actually in correspondence for the longest time and I still have all the letters we exchanged. She's an amazing lady and I love her to pieces.

    Wow...what a great thing to find out this morning!:D

    1. Oh, Raquel, that is an awesome story! How fun to correspond with your favorite author. I remember loving these stories way back when which was both a good and bad thing to pin hopes on; I do wish the movie (which was the pilot for a Hallmark TV show) had followed their original stories better, but it was still worth watching.

      Glad this made you happy. :)

  4. What she said! ^^^ I'm sooooooooooo excited!!!!! I will have to watch this!

    1. Cannot wait to find out what you think, Chasity! :)

  5. Thanks Rissi!
    I am doing good.
    I've started a new blog called A Book in the Hand.
    I hope you"ll stop by it and leave a comment.
    ~God Bless~

    1. Great! Funny you should drop by because just the other day I was wondering if possibly I was missing posts from Ella in my dashboard. :) Glad you are doing well - and of course! I'd be delighted to stop by your new blog - I'd no idea you'd started a new blog.

  6. I always love reading your blog because you always reviews on movies that would interest me. As an aspiring teacher and Anne of Green Gable fan, I know I'm going to love this new movie. I love stories about teachers set in historical times. I watched Love Comes Softly before, I didn't know it was a book. Thanks for making my day. Yay new film to watch!

    1. Awesome! I'm glad this film is of interest to you, Carlyn. Hope you can get a hold of the film then... I understand the excitement of finding a new one. It's getting rare to find ones that are good. :)

      Yes, both the Love Comes Softly films and this are based on novels by Janette Oke. I've read both series when I was lots younger and have fond memories of the novels. :)

      Wishing you all the best with your dreams - hope they work out!

  7. I just watched this on Friday and quite enjoyed it. So far I am more drawn towards "Aunt Elizabeth's" storyline and wish they had given us more from her, but I'm assuming they are saving that for the first season of the show.

    1. To be honest, Lydia, from what I understand, the show will only cover "young" Elizabeth's story. I'm quite disappointed by this just because it's "Aunt Elizabeth" who the novels are about. That being said, I think a lot of the Wynn/Elizabeth plots will be included in the show, only it'll revolve around Elizabeth the younger and her beau(s), so we'll see how it plays out...


Have a thought? Don't be shy, go ahead and leave one... or two... or three! I reply to every comment. If you're new to the blog, please don't hesitate to introduce yourself and your blog - we love chatting around here!

Feedback and every comment is appreciated and read - I always leave a response; your opinions are respected and I ask that you show mine the same courtesy.

(If you post under “anonymous,” please leave a name. If you don't have a Google account, you can type your name into the Name/URL and if you have no site, just leave "URL" blank.)

If you are still reading my ramblings, thank you for following this little blog and for being one of its supporters. I’ve enjoyed getting to know each of you, friends!

[name=Rissi] [img=Your Image Url Here] [description=auburn-hair. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. silver petticoat contributor. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/FindingWonderlandBlog/) (twitter=https://twitter.com/rissijc) (instagram=https://instagram.com/rissi006) (bloglovin=https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/dreaming-under-same-moon-3249983) (pinterest=Pinterest Profile Url) (tumblr=Tumblr Profile Url)