Friday, May 17, 2013

Book: Pastor's Wives

What's it like when the man you married is already married to God? asks Pastors' Wives, an often surprising yet always emotionally true first novel set in a world most of us know only from the outside.

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen's debut novel Pastors' Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a fictional suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith---in God, in her marriage, and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf's "First Lady," a force of nature who'll stop at nothing to protect her church and her superstar husband. Ginger, married to Candace's son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. All their roads collide in one chaotic event that exposes their true selves. Inspired by Cullen's reporting as a staff writer for Time magazine, Pastors' Wives is a dramatic portrayal of the private lives of pastors' wives, caught between the demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.

Real. That was the first word that came to mind when I finished this book.  And actually when I was only about a quarter of the way through.  Because it's based on real interviews with pastor's wives, this book reads equal parts expose and fully human.  Each of the three main characters tells the story from her point of view (with the help of flashback scenes) so you feel like you get inside their heads and understand why they would make the choices they do.

Having grown up in the church I can imagine some of the stress placed on the pastor's wife, being a very visible figure in the church, but I definitely can't imagine having to be in that position.  I think perhaps this book, while a fascinating read, will also help us have a little more empathy for the fact that they are people just like us, with hopes, dreams, expectations, and the extra burden of a husband who might at times seem to have a first wife, and it's not you.


Lisa Takeuchi Cullen was a longtime staff writer for TIME magazine. She now develops TV pilots for production companies and recently sold her first pilot for "The Ordained" to CBS. Born in Japan, Cullen lives in New Jersey with family.

I received this book from LitFuse in exchange for my fair and honest review.

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