by Susan May Warren
So I fear that at times this blog gets a bit boring. Lately, I’ve been reading Cadfael, Corbett’s Trick books, and the Betsy books in a sort of round-robin fashion. And while I’ve been having a perfectly lovely time (I have especially fallen in love with Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy!), my reviews tend to get a bit repetitive.
Well, fear not! I have, in fact, been reading other books besides those. Unfortunately, this one was dreadful. This came as quite a surprise to me, as I have actually read other books by Warren before and found them to be decent suspense novels. I was excited when I discovered that she had written a new trio of books, set in t he early 1900’s, following three generations of women. Since I’ve been reading my way through twentieth-century history over the last two years, I thought to myself–Perfect!
But, like Julie Lessman’s A Hope Undaunted, this book was just full of unnecessary angst and stupidity.
The story focuses on two sisters, daughters of an important and rich newspaper baron in New York City. The oldest daughter yearns to be a writer like her father, while the younger daughter wishes to be the belle of New York society. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically every time you thought something good was going to happen, it ended in tragedy. Everyone lied to everyone else, then felt bad about it. Everyone ended up with unhappy romantic entanglements. And there was no real story to hold things together.
It was impossible to like anyone, mainly because Warren killed off characters right and left (mostly nice ones… the bad ones seemed to linger like a bad taste in your mouth), or nice characters turned out to be jerks. The sisters were both irritating, poor decision-makers, and self-destructive.
And, worst of all–while other books of Warren’s that I have read have done a good job introducing and working through Christian themes, this book handled it terribly. God was just sort of tossed out as a band-aid for random problems. There was no real engagement or relationship with Him. The characters’ faith just sort of came and went. The so-called ‘Christian’ message was just randomly-inserted preaching that had no real connection to or impact on the story. It was the sort of Christian fiction that makes my skin crawl, to think that non-Christians read that and think that that’s what we believe… ugh.
So, in summary–impersonal characters, terrible story-telling, not a happy moment in the entire book, flat and platitude-filled religion–all combined to make this book a complete waste of my time. 1/5.