With summer coming, it seems time to delve into a good read. Here are two novels, but with a difference.
A few years ago, I featured Embrace Me by Lisa Samson in the Woman Alive book club. I rave about her writing when given the chance; she’s one of my favourite Christian novelists. She fills her stories with real characters who could be living next door to you – such as the protagonist of The Sky Beneath My Feet: Beth, the wife of a pastor at a huge church. She’s a mother with teenaged sons and a wife whose husband experiences a sort of midlife crisis, where he retreats to the shed in the back garden to get in touch with God. How Beth deals with this absent husband/father/pastor makes up the novel’s storyline.
The author manages to weave searching themes into the story: community, intimacy, envy, identity, love and commitment. For instance, in terms of identity, who are we, and who are we made to be? When we marry, do we morph into a different person – one our younger self might not recognise? What is intimacy in marriage, and how can we stop killing our marriages with “the death of a thousand cuts”(nagging)?
One to read slowly and to ponder. And to enjoy for the author’s evocative use of language: “Like whisky in a sauce, Jed’s wrath will burn away quick enough” (page 53).
Wings of Glass, Gina Holmes (Tyndale, ISBN 978-1414366418)
Wings of Glass is another novel dealing with real-life issues. This one exposes the lies, fear and pain of an abusive marriage. As I read it, I thought back a few years to the pain of witnessing a friend who endured a long, protracted divorce from an abusive husband. And I thought about how that could have been me too; one of my relationships in my twenties, in particular, could have turned out nasty.
Every couple’s story is different, but similar themes often emerge. Wings of Glass recounts how Penny fell prey to the charms of Trent when she was just 18. She marries him, delighted to leave her parents’ home, but doesn’t reckon on his verbal and physical abuse. Only the impending birth of their child after 10 years of marriage, and the help of some newfound friends, can make her face the reality of her husband’s brutality.
It’s a gritty novel, but is marked with the hope of change as rooted in the Gospel. I agree with Liz Curtis Higgs, who says on the cover: “… so real that it reads like a memoir”. One to read prayerfully, asking God if there’s a woman near you who might be suffering in silence, and who might need a friend.
Have you read either book or books by these authors? If so, what do you think?