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This book was very readable but ultimately very disappointing The main disappointment is the main character, a young female Episcopal priest She is basically the Reverend Mary Sue All of her emotions are told, not shown She is ever serene and quietly musing, regardless of the chaos around her, and has a calm, wise answer for every question She s just very unsatisfying Her compliant is that her husband withdraws from her, but she s very withdrawn herself in my opinion and is virtually never shown confronting him and trying to draw him out She just QUIETLY MUSES about it Also, she s an Episcopal priest and seems uncertain about whether Jesus was God Wait a minute WHAT She reads with approval a seminary candidate s application stating that Christianity and Hinduism can both be true at the same time WHAT NO THEY ACTUALLY CAN T Believe them or not, Christianity makes very explicit and very EXCLUSIVE truth claims My final objection to this book was that there were multiple sub plots that didn t come together in any satisfactory way in the end All the way through the book the author drops hints about the fundamentalist character, Grace, possibly being an arsonist But at the end when a church finally burns down, it s because SOMEBODY LEFT AN IRON ON Again WHAT Grace is a way 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 Grace is the gun that was never fired 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 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. 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 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 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. 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. 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 depth 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 It reminds me of a phrase I drafted for my wedding vows, where I said that my husband and I found each other and fell in love because we opened the door to love and welcomed it when it stepped freely through the door 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. A very interesting sequel to Father Melancholy s Daughter this relates the next chapter in young Margaret s life which you will want to know if you read the first book 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 However, the analytical thought and rumination that takes place in Margaret s mind as she tells us this story and the sense of serenity she exudes sometimes seemed a bit too much 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 On the other hand, it was this constant, thoughtful pondering in Margaret s mind that was intriguing and satisfying in its way because it helped to contain and explain all the action 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 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 concentration on making their religion palatable to all the peoples instead of on a careful reading of the Scriptures Also, they seem to put a lot of stock in form perhaps this takes the place of some of the substance I don t know.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 of Gail Godwin. |READ PDF ♍ Evensong ☼ A Bestselling Novel By A Distinguished Author Brings To Life The People Of A Small Smoky Mountain Town And A Woman Whose World Is Indelibly Altered By Them Beautifully Written And Filled With The Insight And Compassion Godwin Is Known For, Evensong Is About Family, The Sometimes Uncomfortable Bonds Of Marriage, And The Quest For Religious Faith 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. 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. Loved it Will remember the main character for a long time Loved her view that a marriage should make 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.