The Painted Table by Suzanne Field
About this book: Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother’s obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint, and heavy with unsettling memories.
After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. But as an adult with a family of her own, Saffee must confront her mother’s torment if she wants to defend herself against it.
Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is an epic portrait of inherited memory, proclivity, and guilt. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifact—like a family member—can bear the marks of one’s entire past . . . as well as intimations of one’s redemption.
About the author: Suzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has also been a magazine editor and home-school teacher. She and her husband have five children and divide their time between Kansas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor. Connect with Suzanne on Facebook.
Genre: Fiction/Christian/General (borderline Historical Fiction; most of the story ranges from 1921-1975)
Judge this book by its cover? I was drawn to this cover, which somehow manages to portray both sadness and hope–exactly the blend of contrasting emotions found in the story. Nicely done, Thomas Nelson, yet again.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG
Reminds me of… Though vastly different in style, it made me think of Christa Parrish’s Stones for Bread both for the issue of mental illness at its core and for its ultimate message of hope.
You’ll want to buy this book if …you’re a woman whose family history includes mental or emotional illness; if you like stories that grapple with tough, real-life issues yet end on a note of hope.
Would I read another by this author? Yes
My take: From its brief beginning scene, the author establishes her omniscient point of view, allowing a wide scope that encompass all characters. This high view allows what might otherwise become a long, drawn-out story to proceed at a pleasing pace. This debut novelist proves to have a deft hand at storytelling and a gentle touch as she weaves the spiritual thread into her story. I liked believable way she portrayed Saffee’s fragile, gradual blossoming of faith. And while she candidly exposes the painful consequences of mental illness–and of loved ones who live life in denial–she also offers a redeeming message of hope.
All in all, The Painted Table is a sobering yet compassionate portrayal of the cost of mental illness–and of God’s transforming power to change lives, forever.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Perhaps you’ve noticed, as I have, that mental and emotional illness are becoming more frankly discussed in our communities, in our churches, and, thankfully, also in our books. In the last two months alone, I’ve read three books (The Painted Table, Good God, Lousy World, & Me, and Stones for Bread) that have addressed the issue of mental illness. Do you think this is a helpful trend toward fostering more compassionate attitudes about these issues in real life? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
One winner will receive:
- A beautiful hand-painted table (see it here: http://etsy.me/15L90cD)
- The Painted Table by Suzanne Field
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 18th. Winner will be announced January 20th on Thomas Nelson’s Facebook Page.