SUMMARY: A riveting portrait of three women's lives set in America's private refuge of faith
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 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 will stop at nothing to protect her church and her husband. Ginger, married to Candace's son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. When their lives collide during a fateful event threatens the survival of all that is precious to them, each will ask herself: what is the price of loving a man of God? Inspired by Cullen's reporting for Time magazine, Pastors' Wives is a passionate portrayal of the private lives of pastors' wives, caught between the consuming demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.
REVIEW: This book is not what I expected, but I'm not sure exactly what that was. I have mixed views on it: some things I really liked; others, not so much. My favorite character was Ginger. I like how she reaches out to some other pastors' wives at a conference. With their support, help, encouragement, Ginger faces her past mistakes and starts a ministry to reach out to girls caught up in the same lifestyle she had been in. Another thing I liked was how Candace, who did not approve of Ginger, goes out of her way to protect Ginger's reputation when she finds out about her past, without her knowledge. I like how the book doesn't tie everything up in neat packages but shows it like real life, with issues that still need to be worked on between some of the characters. Also, when two characters are faced with the opportunity to have an affair, they both choose not to and to keep their marriage vows.
Items I did not like in this novel: Ruthie often compares Catholicism to Protestant/Evangelicalism with the later often losing out even though she doesn't practice either one on a regular basis. Even though she is a pastor's wife, Ruthie does it reluctantly and doesn't seem to want to give God a place in her life. The author jumps around a lot with Ruthie's time with her mom, her thinking about past and present experiences of religion and her relationships with her family. She also goes into great detail about some relationships but doesn't give enough information about others. Also, the author makes Greenleaf a conservative church in it's views and functioning, but she has Ginger ask a liberal church with a lesbian pastor for help with her ministry to exotic dancers.
In my opinion, this was an okay book.
This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen was a foreign correspondent and staff write for Time magazine. CBS is currently shooting her drama pilot, The Ordained. Cullen grew up in Kobe, Japan and lives in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters. Her first book, Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Pastors' Wives is her first novel.