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Grace is a way more interesting character than Margaret aka Rev Mary Sue but she doesn't ultimately get to play any role in the denouement and in the epilog has completely dropped out of sight. Remember what Chekov said "If you show a gun in Act One it had better be fired before the end of the play. It's frustrating to me that it seems so hard for anyone to write a serious book about people of faith. I generally dislike "Christian fiction" because it is so shallow All Christian characters are good, all non-Christian characters are bad, Jesus solves everybody's problems, the end , and mainstream literature either ignores faith or only deals with wacko fundamentalists.

It's a shame this wasn't a better book, because I think it was a brave attempt and there were some really good theological and philosophical nuggets in it. I was very moved and touched by this book. I shy away from books like this sometimes, afraid of superficial dabblings in human relationship. But I didn't find that in this book.

It is motivated and organized around communion with the Divine, which gives it depth and meaning at least to me. But it is really the relationships that drive the story. Deep characters, with everyday flaws--things that plague us all--insecurities, regrets, fears, and failures, among others. Its saving grace is the thi I was very moved and touched by this book.

Its saving grace is the thing that save us all--faith, hope, and love, and like the scriptures say, love is the most important of all. Written to the narrator's daughter, some of the plot twists are expected, and some are unexpected. The blend of action and introspection allows the reader or, again, at least me to reflect and assimilate the new developments, much as is necessary in real life. While perhaps the characters are more forgiving than I could admit to being, they are multidimensional. This has to be one of the best books to blend religion Episcopalian and life, with an even focus on the good and the bad.

While it doesn't make religion, or religious life, faultless, it certainly gives a glimpse to what attracts, protects, and uplifts those who believe. A stirring book for those who enjoy thinking about the divine and the love that flows through us all. View 1 comment. Jun 30, Crystal rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , favorites. There is a quite a satisfying feeling reading Godwin's books. Can't really put my finger on the why. Her topics really meet me where I live deep inside. Mar 15, Mimi rated it really liked it Shelves: read I really want to go back and read Godwin's entire catalogue, this story continues Father Melancholy's Daughter and is, as that was, a beautiful, quiet, thoughtful read.

The only thing that kept it from being a five star read is an uncomfortable thread that is woven in that I found distasteful. I moved books around to put these two gems on my "keeper" shelf. Nov 08, Edith rated it really liked it. I definitely recommend reading them in sequence to get the most from this story. Hear, hear. I particularly liked the religious setting of this story and the way in which the story is presented through the eyes of a faith practice- Episcopalian.

There were ideas to think about. Godwin is a very careful writer - she obviously chooses words and structures her sentences with much thought. The vocabulary is enriching. Although I suppose that there are people like her who are always on an even keel, it just sometimes felt as if she was too neat and perfect in her approach and response to everything- kind of like a very measured, calm psychologist.

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Just saying. Also, some of the conversations, especially for the youngsters - were not totally what you would expect a young teenager to say, but I forgave Godwin the more clever language she put in their mouths because it seems to be her forte. Another reviewer pointed out her surprise and dismay that Margaret was intrigued and impressed by the priest applicant who felt that Hinduism and Christianity could both be true at the same time- YES, I felt the same incredulous surprise and wondered exactly what they teach in Episcopalian seminaries these days - perhaps more concentration on making their religion more palatable to all the peoples instead of on a careful reading of the Scriptures.

One aspect I enjoyed was the sense of foreboding in the story - I knew that something major was going to happen, but Godwin did not give too much away and this suspense kept me waiting for the climax. There were points where I was very afraid for Margaret. All in all, this was a satisfying story and I plan to read more of Gail Godwin. Feb 08, Amy Shields rated it really liked it.

I really like this, I'm not sure why because it's about a female Episcopalian priest married to a pastor and I'm not religous. But she's a great writer, very down to earth and she addresses some big questions that are big whether you look at them from a religous perspective or not. I guess it's sort of in the vein of those Jan Karon books which I read a really long time ago but I'd say there's more depth.

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I was struck by a passage regarding advent, again not from a religious aspect, but just i I really like this, I'm not sure why because it's about a female Episcopalian priest married to a pastor and I'm not religous. I was struck by a passage regarding advent, again not from a religious aspect, but just in terms of life in general.

She's explaining that to prepare for advent you clean your house, and prepare food, and also prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for what might come. You get everything ready, and open your mind and then sit down and say, "Come, God, come. I felt like it wasn't something you could go out and get, or successfully pursue, but on the other hand, it will never happen if you are not open and receptive, and prepared, in a way.

Jan 21, Angeline rated it it was amazing. I am taken with the ability of the writer to evolve the story in the present, through the reflections written in first person narrative of the main character. I would not normally have picked up a novel with such bible referenced text, for fear that I am being preached to. Quite the opposite, I am engaged on a level which feels so personal and intimate, and might just be helping to change my thinking in a very constructive good way. I feel happily connected to this book. Dec 16, Elizabeth rated it it was amazing.

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This was a re-read for me, prompted after seeing a pre-publication review of Gail Godwin's upcoming book, Grief Cottage not out until June. I love her writing. This book, set on the eve of the Millenium is oddly prescient of today's current political environment. So glad I decided to read again. So many books, so little time--but this one was worth it. Sep 25, Annette rated it it was amazing.

Loved it. Will remember the main character for a long time. Loved her view that a marriage should make more of both parties. Loved her musings on faith and human character. Loved her willingness to give of herself in an effort to be a good friend and a good shepherd. Highly recommend it. Sep 30, Nancy Sobanik rated it it was amazing. I loved this book.

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I felt the characters were richly textured, leading busy lives layers of relationship and situational complexity that made them authentic. Margaret, almost saint like in her goodness and wisdom. Others have commented that they did not understand why she was passive and did not try to draw her husband out of his negativity. I saw it as her ability to give love and support quietly, and not try to force solutions for others not ready for them. She let the relationship develop bet I loved this book.

She let the relationship develop between Tony and Adrian and had the grace and wisdom to stand back and not interject herself in the middle. She knew her mind and did not allow Grace to pressure her to do something she did not agree with. I became intrigued to see how the story would end and play out, and it was believable. Human frailties were not glossed over. I look forward to reading more Gail Godwin! Sep 10, Annette rated it it was amazing. A dozen years ago I read this book, but picked it up the other day off my bookshelf and thumbed through it.

I realized this is a book worth re-reading. One thing that drew me back to the story was I was still working for the Catholic Church when I quickly read this book for graduate school. Now working and attending an Episcopal church, I have a deeper understanding of the liturgical language contained within the pages. It's a richly layered novel with many interesting characters.

It's a terrific A dozen years ago I read this book, but picked it up the other day off my bookshelf and thumbed through it. It's a terrific read and I recommend it to anyone interested in a great story, regardless of their faith background. May 26, Kimberly rated it did not like it. How did this make the New York Times best seller list? Redundant to the point of ad nauseam. Plot points are contrived and characters are soulless. Jan 05, Shannon rated it really liked it. What a lovely book this was! I loved the main character, Margaret Bonner, rector of a small Episcopal church in the mountains of North Carolina.

Margaret is wise, but real. Her husband, Adrian, is also a priest and acting headmaster of a private school nearby. Near the start of the book they unexpectedly make room for two house guests - a traveling monk and a boy recently kicked out of Adrian's school. The pace of this book is slow. It's not plot driven.

But action does build and I cried during p What a lovely book this was! But action does build and I cried during pivotal scenes at the end of the book.

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I loved the descriptions of Margaret's life as a priest. We get to see behind the scenes as she performs a marriage, preaches for the first Sunday of Advent and conducts a funeral. Evensong doesn't glamorize her life or vocation. Instead, it shows the day to day of her life. I read this book because I liked the excerpt of it used as a devotion in Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. I'm so glad I did. It let me re-live Advent during these last days of the Christmas season. Aug 22, Abbey Dupuy rated it really liked it.

I am dissatisfied with the ending of this book. Central conflicts shouldn't be hastily resolved in epilogues! It felt like the book was getting too long and the story needed to wrap itself up quickly Still, the depiction of marriage here is one of the most truthful and moving I have ever read. There is a lot of honest wisdom here, and it feels real and hard-earned. Plus, the narrative is saturated with the language and liturgy of high church Episcopalianism and The Book of Common Prayer, both I am dissatisfied with the ending of this book.


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Plus, the narrative is saturated with the language and liturgy of high church Episcopalianism and The Book of Common Prayer, both of which were the gateway to adult faith for me and both of which will always resonate in my soul. This wasn't a perfect book, but the humanity of the characters and their strength in the midst of brokenness will stay with me for a long time.

Apr 22, Dana rated it it was amazing. Jun 04, Elizabeth rated it it was amazing Shelves: elizabeth-s-favorites. This is the kind of literary fiction I love. It's very much like Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. It has the same themes: parents and children, how our pasts affect us, how we connect with God, how we make sense of human life and suffering. There were so many thoughtful, beautiful sentences that I wrote down and pondered over as I read. Margaret, the main character, and I think so much alike. She's very introspective and has a kind of wisdom and steadiness that I want for myself.

This would make an This is the kind of literary fiction I love. This would make an excellent book club read. There is so much depth. This book and its characters will linger with me long. Jun 30, Anne-Marie rated it liked it. Interesting book. The religious discussions and conflicts were thought provoking and made me wonder if I should switch from Catholicism to Episcopalian. It seems so inclusive and reasonable to me. The characters were also interesting, but the plot was far from captivating.

Gail Godwin obviously loves words and I found myself keeping a list of vocabulary words to look up and memorize - sizz, stobs, scurrile, caromed, peroration, thurifer, etc. What do you think of this sentence: "From high in a f Interesting book. What do you think of this sentence: "From high in a fir tree a crow sent a raucous query into the white stillness; as if in answer came the distant sonic scrape of a jet cutting through the turbulence toward stratospheric sunshine.

Anyway, I did enjoy it. I hadn't realized when I started it that it is the sequel to another of her books, Father Melancholy's Daughter, perhaps it would have been more interesting to me if I had read that first. Aug 04, Rena Sherwood rated it did not like it Shelves: the-crap-shelf , will-put-you-to-sleep. I have a pile of books that I read only to get drowsy enough to fall asleep. Evensong would rate five stars for that. But as a book, this is awfully pretentious and preposterous.

The interview with the author at the book's end noted that this town "was a normal town" -- not by a long shot! People in this fictional town don't talk like real people.

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The whole Jesus March thing was confusing and ultimately unexplored. Many points in the book are brought up and then suddenly dropped. For example, th I have a pile of books that I read only to get drowsy enough to fall asleep. For example, there is a murder mentioned but yet we never hear about the cause, investigation or trial. We just get a lot of whining about bad parents and religion.

What the hell??? Oct 04, Kassi rated it liked it Shelves: read-in It's hard to pin-point whether this book is a religious book or a book about religion. The characters, command of language and story-line have depth and sensitivity which goes beyond your average book. But at times, the predictability of the story arc as well as some of the cookie-cutter peripheral characters diluted the rich text.

One thing that I keep coming back to is the great quotes in the book. Gail Godwin has a talent for writing about morality without sounding preachy and for coming up w It's hard to pin-point whether this book is a religious book or a book about religion. Gail Godwin has a talent for writing about morality without sounding preachy and for coming up with one-liners without sounding cliche or anecdotal. Over all, a compelling enriching read, a perfect meeting between light reading and "think piece"s. Aug 18, Meg rated it liked it Shelves: church-ladies.

My only complaint about this book was that it was a lot of work to read. I'll take that back: the ending was lame, also.


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On the way to the ending, there was some interesting stuff about family dynamics and theology. On the theological front, I sometimes felt the author was lecturing wait, that may be another complaint. But in general the theology was radical enough to appeal to me. My favorite bit was when the narrator female Episcopal priest described her faith as not so much believing in G My only complaint about this book was that it was a lot of work to read.

My favorite bit was when the narrator female Episcopal priest described her faith as not so much believing in God but recognizing God. Very interesting and likable main character. Sep 05, Annie Guthrie rated it really liked it. I have read this book several times Second reading I loved it I was reading for the words and ideas Mar 18, TJ rated it really liked it Shelves: ministry.

Awesome book. Most honest and realistic discussion of religion and faith I've seen in a long time. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is or interested in religion. These 71 agencies focus on assisting with crisis needs shelter, hunger, clothing or achieving financial stability. Much of the funding for the Gifts Committee comes from the profits of the St.

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