logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Preacher
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-07-03 09:23
A #coming of age story full of atmosphere and a nostalgic look at a more innocent era
Son of a Preacher Man: A Novel - Karen M. Cox

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you are looking for reviews) and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

Recently, I read and reviewed one of Karen M. Cox’s novels I Could Write a Book (you can read the review here) and as she was one of the authors who’d also taken part in one of my favourite recent anthologies (Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, check that review here), when I heard she was going to publish a new book and read the description, I had to check it out.

In contrast with the other two books, this book is not a Regency novel (it takes place in the South of the USA in the late 1950s –early 1960s), and it is not related to Jane Austen (although, like her novels, is excellent at reflecting the social mores of the place and the era). It is the story, narrated in the first person, of Billy Ray Davenport, a young man with a tragedy in his past (he lost his mother to a terrible accident), whose father is a travelling preacher. He used to spend his summers travelling with him (he went to school and stayed at his aunt’s the rest of the year), but when we meet him, just before he goes to medical school, he is due to spend a few weeks with a doctor, friend of the family. He hopes to gain medical knowledge and get a taste of what his future will be like. This summer will prove momentous for Billy Ray, who will learn much more about the world, small-town society, girls, and himself than he had known until then. What he experiences there will make him question some of his strong-held beliefs and what he is truly made of.

This novel captures beautifully the everyday life in a small-town, where rumours and whispers can destroy somebody’s reputation (especially a young girl’s), where everybody knows everybody else and there is nothing private and nowhere to hide.  Marlene, the daughter of the doctor Billy Ray is working with, takes a shine to him and proves to be very spiteful, badmouthing and spreading rumours about another girl, Lizzie. Lizzie is like a modern scarlet woman, and her behaviour repels and attracts Billy Ray in equal measure, putting his beliefs about proper behaviour and relationships between men and women to the test.

Lizzie is a great character. Although she does not always behave consistently, and at times she manages to make things more difficult for herself, we get to understand her and root for her. She has had to make herself strong and mistrusts everybody for very good reasons. She is different to the rest of the characters in the novel and in Orchard Hill, and it is not surprising that Billy Ray sets his eyes on her. She is a modern woman who knows her own mind and is prepared to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true.

Billy Ray feels very old-fashioned, perhaps even more because he falls for Lizzie, and the contrast between the opinions and behaviours of the two could not be more extreme, at least at first sight. Billy Ray is the preacher’s son of the title, and although we might be familiar with stories about the children of preachers rebelling against their strict religious upbringing (Footloose, for instance), he is a chip off the old block. I wondered if Billy Ray is not, in fact, even more morally upright and a stricter follower of the spirit of the Bible than his father is. He is a thoroughly good man (he struggles at times and is not perfect, but he is one of the genuinely good guys), and although he is young and naïve at the beginning of the story, he has the heart in the right place and tries very hard to live up to Christian moral standards. He is a thinking man and the roller-coaster of his emotions and his doubts and hesitations reflect well his age. The roles between the two main characters challenge the standard stereotypes, and we have the good and innocent young man and the experienced woman who tempts him trying to send him down the wrong path, rather than the rogue going trying to steal the virtue of an innocent young woman. Of course, things are not that simple, and the relationship between the two main characters has many nuances, ups and downs, and despite what they might think, they need each other to become better versions of themselves.

The rest of the characters are given less space (this is a coming of age story, after all, and adults are not the centre of the book, although the relationship between Billy Ray and his father is beautifully rendered) but even the characters we don’t get to know that well (the rest of Lizzie’s family, the doctor, the midwife) are convincing and engaging. There are parallels between Billy Ray and Lizzie and some of the older characters as if they embodied what would have happened to them if they hadn’t found each other. It is evident that Billy Ray is focused on telling the story of his relationship with Lizzie and the book reflects the single-mindedness of his protagonist, as the affairs of society and the world at large only rarely get mentioned.

The rhythm of the novel is paused and contemplative and it feels like the summer months felt when we were young: eternal and full of possibilities. The turn of phrase and the voices of the different characters are distinct and help recreate the Southern atmosphere, adding a vivid local feel, and some humorous touches. After the summer we follow the character’s first few years at university and we see him become a man. I don’t want to go into detail, but I can tell you I really enjoyed the ending of the book, which is in keeping with the rest of the novel.

Although religion and the character’s beliefs are very important to the story’s plot (I am not an expert, so I cannot comment if this novel would fit into the category of Christian books, or if it would be considered too daring, although there is no explicit sex and I cannot recall any serious swearing), and the main character might appear old-fashioned and not a typical young man, for me, that is one of its assets. It does not feel like a modernised recreation of the past, but as if it truly had been written by somebody who was recording the important aspects of his long-gone youth.  I recommend it to readers keen on books full of atmosphere and centred on characters and relationships that differ from the norm. It is also a great book for people looking to recreate the feeling of the late 1950s and early 60s in a Southern small town.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-05-10 22:47
The Preacher's Wife
The Preacher's Bride - Jody Hedlund

This book was so much better than I expected it to be. I looked at the cover and the title and thought it would be a silly romance novel. As it turned out, it was actually a well written story based on John Bunyan who wrote The Pilgrim's Progress but also focusing on Elisabeth, his second wife who support him. I was surprised to find out that many of the details and characters were based on fact and transcripts. This book was an amazing view into the past world of the Puritans and their persecution.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2018-01-15 00:00
The Preacher's Son
The Preacher's Son - Lisa Henry,J.A. Roc... The Preacher's Son - Lisa Henry,J.A. Rock The blurb does a good job of laying out what this story is and yes, religion plays a large part in the story. This book won’t be for everyone based upon that (and I should also warn that there are references to and on page scenes of suicide attempts) but those who enjoy getting into the heads of characters and being fully engaged in the struggle within them that will lead to the ultimate payoff will be pleased.

What Jason did to Nate, how he used him, was horrible. Being in Jason’s head during the act, we know he is aware that what he is doing was wrong on so many levels and feels guilty while he’s doing it. Jason is just one of the people in the story who misguidedly believes they are doing something right. Something good that will help people. Meanwhile, 18 year old Nate, a virgin who is spending the weekend looking at a college, on his own for the first time, thinks he has found a friend, a lover and a person who understands. Even though the reader doesn’t hear about the fallout until years afterwards, it is no less gut-wrenching.

Picking up four years later, the story is focused on the characters trying to make things right as much as possible for themselves and those they have hurt. Nate has it especially hard, trying to reconcile his homosexuality, his faith and his place in his family. Working at his father’s conversion camp while knowing he is lying to the teenage children who heard his story and may believe it on some level. Struggling to change, but not sure which way is best and who he will hurt more with every decision.

Jason is struggling too. A pariah in the town he hated as a teenager and hates now that he is forced back he wants to make amends to Nate, but doesn’t expect Nate to forgive. The two start to see each other and a relationship develops. Jason wants Nate to help change him. Nate needs to learn to think and live for himself and not for his father or anyone else. Even since the incident, Nate has always felt something for Jason even though he question having feelings for his abuser.

All the relationships in this story are complex – Nate and his family especially. Nate’s mom understands him more than he knows, but their relationship has also been fractured, not as much by the scandal but by the differing beliefs they all hold. The family is functioning in dysfunction and once Nate starts accepting himself and seeing his father’s flaws, he begins to see his mother in a new light as well. Nate loves his father, but is afraid that his father’s love for him will only go so far when he learns the truth.

What works very well here is the characters have good intentions, but they have flaws and they sometimes do things that are wrong. They are living in the gray areas that all people do and struggling with how to deal with it. Questioning motives, feelings and long-held beliefs, questioning their worth to the people around them and society in general and trying to find the balance of what they owe themselves and what they owe others. Jason struggles with what he did to Nathan while still wanting to see Moving Forward burn to the ground. He struggles with whether he is deserving of Nate’s forgiveness even when all he wants is to love Nate and make him happy. Nate struggles with his hypocrisy, his lies and how he can help the kids at the camp when he is really struggling with what is going on there. His belief that what his father is doing can help the kids is repeatedly and tragically tested with the new group of campers that arrive at the same time Jason does.

Yes, there is a romance storyline but the meat of the story is more each character’s journey of self-discovery and forgiveness – of others and themselves - and of learning how to live their truth and reconciling that with their faith, family and long held beliefs.

I found myself interested and invested in all the characters. There were a few times where the characters’ thoughts felt a bit repetitive, but overall I could understand the struggle each was going through and empathize with them. I’ve always enjoyed the writing team of Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock and while this story was different than I’ve read from them in the past, I enjoyed the departure.
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-04 09:26
September 2017 — A Month with an Abysmal Reading Record

 

 

The previous month was all about graphic novels, comics, and anthologies. Here is what I read in September and what I thought about it:

 

Preacher, Vols. 4-9

It was irreverent as heck:

 

 

He means the Heavenly Host btw

 

It was full of sexist characters who say things like:

 

 

 

But oh, it was so good!

 

 

 

I read this one as part of Work Book Bingo for the Bestsellers’ Shelf. Glad I did because I loved it! Find a detailed review here.

 

 

Started this one Because. Neil Gaiman. Turns out, the book had an itty bitty poem by him. Anyway, I plodded on and found a collection of really weird stories. Check out my review here!

 

 

A thought-provoking collection of stories. Read my review here!

 

September seemed endless; maybe because I couldn’t cram much reading time into it. How was your September?

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 4, 2017.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-09-11 04:44
The Case of the Preacher Without a Prayer



A Professor Laura Kaylan and Detective Harry Gonzales Mystery

At first glance, Reverend Billy Roy Montgomery's parsonage office looked exactly as it did on the evangelist's Sunday evening program, Gospel Reflections: opulent furniture in mahogany and red leather, subdued lighting from a Tiffany lamp on the desk, shelves lined with leather-bound books. A second look around, however, revealed subtle and not so subtle differences between the genuine article and the studio stage set.  Here, solid oak bookcases provided the backdrop in every direction, instead of painted plywood that ended at the edge of the camera's field of vision.  The stage set never invoked the unmistakable aroma of fine leather and old wood that marked this room as the genuine article.  Like most TV studios, the Gospel Reflections mock-up smelled of hot lights, electric cables, and some technician's stale cigarette smoke and half-eaten burger.

 

But I digress, a quirk of personality I sometimes cultivate.

 

Summoned to the parsonage by a half-hysterical phone call from Reverend Billy's wife, I stopped just inside the open door to the study and marshaled the forces that would return me to some semblance of professional calm.  Reverend Billy's office did indeed look normal, except of course for the dead man sprawled face down on the carpet in front of the massive desk.  A wet red stain, too fresh even to have dried at the edges, covered the back of his once-white jacket.  The gold handle of the letter opener that had killed him gleamed in the muted light.


The tall case clock in the corner bonged discreetly three times.  I glanced at my watch; Billy's clock ran fast by about five minutes.  I glanced down at Billy; his time had run out.


The quiet sniffle from somewhere to my left dispelled a moment of contemplation.  A disembodied voice, floating on the morbid air, asked, "Can you keep everything quiet?  You know, out of the papers?"


Someone else might have laughed in reply, but few others, and certainly none of the cops who would arrive on scene within minutes, would have understood the request.

 

I turned to the huddled knot of people clustered in front of the closed door that led to the rest of the parsonage.  Pauline Bouchard Montgomery, who sometime within the past few hours had gone from being the wife of the most powerful evangelist in Phoenix to just another widow, separated herself from the group and stumbled toward me.

 

"That's why I called you first, Dr. Kaylan," she added.  "The publicity, if this should get out, would be . . . disastrous."


She tripped on the edge of the rug and only the quick action of a bathrobed elderly woman with the manner of a professional nurse kept the former Polly Bouchard from falling to the floor beside her late husband.


Polly accepted the nurse's assistance to a nearby chair, behind the desk and out of view of the body.


"I am the soul of discretion, Mrs. Montgomery, but as soon as the police get here --"

 

"No!" she shrieked, half rising from the chair until the nurse's hands on her shoulders brought her back down.  "No police.  We'll say it was an accident."

 

Her outburst, though brief, rattled me more than her earlier calm.  Her husband, a prominent personality in the religious community of a major metropolitan area, lay dead on the floor with a fancy letter opener protruding from his back, and she expected anyone to believe he died due to an accident? 

 

Yes, that's exactly what she expects, I thought. 

 

This attractive, slender woman in her early fifties came from a background that accustomed her to getting exactly what she wanted more often than not, no matter how irrational her request might seem to anyone else.

 

"I don't think you understand my position, Mrs. Montgomery," I began to explain as I walked closer to the widow and her caretaker.  Assuming a classic movie stance, I went down on one knee beside her and took her stone cold hands in mine.  "We have a duty to call the police.  Reverend Billy has been murdered, and the police have to find out who did it."

 

She gathered herself for another screamed protest; I squeezed her icy fingers tightly before continuing with only the slightest pause.  A man could not have communicated the emotional bond this way, but I knew Polly would respond to a woman's touch.

 

"I want you to tell me what happened as quickly as you can, no more than ten minutes, and then I'm going to call the police," I told her, with a quick look up toward the nurse, who nodded her understanding.  "Tell me everything, just as it happened, just as you remember it."

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?