Hats off to Beth Moore for trying her hand at something new. That right there is an inspiration to women who aim to be difference makers, who are seeking courage to take action beyond their comfort zones. My takeaway? Just do it. Take that risk, step out in faith, make it your very best work. The result will likely surprise you.
Meet the book: (from the publisher) Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had finally drunk himself to death. It’s not like they were close. She hadn’t seen him—or her grandmother, the ice queen—in almost 20 years. But when Adella Atwater, the manager of her grandmother’s apartment house, called and said Jillian’s expenses would be paid if she’d fly in for the burial, a free trip to New Orleans was too intriguing to resist.
What Adella didn’t tell her was that the apartment house wasn’t a house at all and, whatever it was, bore the dead weight of a long and painful history. As soon as Jillian meets the odd assortment of renters and realizes that her grandmother had no idea she was coming, she hatches a plan to escape. But the investigation into her father’s death quickly unfolds and Jillian is drawn into the lives of the colorful collection of saints and sinners who pass through Saint Silvanus. She soon discovers there is more at stake than she ever imagined. Who is behind the baffling messages and the strange relics left on the steps? Is it possible that her family is actually cursed? Or is it just this crazy old house that holds them all under its spell?
Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus.
Meet the author: Beth Moore has written many best–selling books and is a dynamic teacher and a prolific Bible–study author whose public speaking engagements take her across the United States to challenge tens of thousands. Beth is focused on teaching women all over the world and is known and respected wherever she goes. She is a dedicated wife and mother of two adult daughters and lives in Houston, Texas, where she leads Living Proof Ministries and teaches an adult Sunday school class. Beth is one of the best known women in the evangelical Christian market. Find her online at Living Proof Ministries.
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Women’s Fiction
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG
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Reflection: First let me say, kudos to Tyndale House Publishers for doing such a lovely job publishing this novel. The cover art, the artwork on the inside pages — these are beautiful and inviting. I believe that reading a book isn’t solely about the writer’s words. It’s the experience of reading those words. (For this reason I’ll never prefer an e-book over a printed one.) The best books come as a complete package, so that the reader finds pleasure in the book’s feel, its heft and appearance. Yes, these things do matter.
But of course a good book can’t be all about its looks. It must also deliver the goods. So how did The Undoing of Saint Silvanus fare? All told, it’s an inviting story with a lively voice. For tone and scope, it felt to me like a cross between the novels of Jan Karon and Karen White, seasoned with Beth Moore’s own inimitable style and biblical wisdom.
It is, however, quite long. It might have been longer, apparently, had it not been for editors whittling it down from its original length, a whopping 160,000 words. (That’s twice the word count of your typical contemporary novel.) In part because of the length, the pace leans to the slow side. I would have liked the plot to unfold a bit more speedily.
Of course, herein lies the tension a writer (and her editors) must grapple with, because a speedier pace might have been achieved but at risk to the development of characters. This novel contains a host of them, all of which received careful attention.
In my reckoning, the best part of The Undoing of Saint Silvanus is the truth it conveys through the power of fiction. One such truth is its examination of compromises women so often make as they pursue the security of relationships. The other is the devastating impact of generational sins, a reality few of us are trained to recognize. But of course, the story doesn’t end there. As she does in every book she writes, Beth Moore brings it all back to center. In The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, she gloriously reveals the power of Jesus to overcome all these things, and more.
Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me this copy free of charge. All opinions are mine.
After words: Have you read any of Beth Moore’s non-fiction work? Which would you particularly recommend?