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Marriage and Other Acts of Charity: A Memoir Hardcover – January 13, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this breezy, soft-pedaling exercise in spiritual empowerment, Braestrup (Here If You Need Me) shares some of her hard-won marital wisdom. As an ordained minister, Braestrup counsels couples to love and cherish one another, even in the face of a 50% divorce rate, and asserts that of the three kinds of love known in ancient biblical Greek—eros, philos, and agape—the greatest is the last. Translated into Latin as charitas, agape is the generous, selfless love given unconditionally and best mimics the nature of God's love. Braestrup traces her own call to the ministry to the aftermath of the shocking sudden death of her policeman husband, Drew, killed in a car accident in 1996, when her family and friends rallied around her and the couple's four children with abundant love and care. She reveals that not long before his death, the couple had suffered a marital crisis and sought counseling for what the author considered clearly Drew's incurable character disorder; however, she was jolted from the brink by the thought of their losing each other. Employing examples of the couples she knows, such as game warden Jeremy Judd and his betrothed, town dispatcher Melanie, who sought the author's advice as they embarked on their marriage, as well as a soon-to-be-divorced couple, Jesse and Georgiana, Braestrup offers grains of folksy, charitable wisdom. She is comfortable discussing death (One hundred percent of marriages end), declaring that the only recourse is Jesus' message: Love more. (Jan.)
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"Braestrup's narration...is filled with the same comfort she offers those she ministers to. Her friendly, easygoing northeastern-accented voice is instantly soothing....Her reading has an often prayerful cadence, though she goes easy on Bible quotation and her discussions of theological issues are so wise and well-thought-out that even the nonreligious won't be put off."―Publishers Weekly (starred review) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 217 pages
  • Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books / Little, Brown & Company; 1st edition (January 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316031917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316031912
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,196,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate Braestrup is one of the first chaplains ever appointed to the Maine Warden Service. She is the author of a novel, "Onion," and has written for Mademoiselle, Ms., City Paper, Hope, and Law and Order. She in lives in Maine with her husband, Simon van der Ven, and their six children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My husband took a look at the cover of this book and laughed, as he thought the title said "cruelty" rather than "charity". When I corrected him I realized that, in fact, it is a bit of both.

Kate Braestrup had some excellent points to make in this memoir, lessons she has learned from experiencing and observing the male/female relationship. One that stuck with me was that "100% of relationships end". We are lucky if they end after a long, happy life together, but the fact is some relationships are cut short. Whether it be through untimely death, divorce or things beyond our control we should learn to appreciate every moment. We should focus on the happiness, not the frustrations of a relationship if we want it to thrive.

Unfortunately for Kate, she learned some of her lessons the hard way. Fortunately for us, she shares her learned wisdom and sprinkles it with some faith filled touches.

I would not consider this a "religious" book, though she is a minister and faith is obviously important to her story. What I can say is that this felt a bit like a series of parables with a very neutral point of view. There may be meaning to each of her chapters, but nothing that felt as if she was leading the reader to a biased conclusion.

The only complaint I have about the book is that it can come off as a bit intellectual because of the language. For example, most of us do not use the following words in everyday conversation(at least not in my New England town): imprimatur, salvific, palimpsest,inchoate,construal, cosseted and extracanonical to name only a few. I would have preferred that this be written in a lighter tone. It's very down-to-earth in theme, so the "big words" felt out of place.

That said, this was an interesting read and provided some thoughtful insight which I enjoyed and I think you will,too.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a Mainer, I particularly enjoy Kate's writings. I know the places that she's talking of and I think that helps the book to be more "real" and applicable to my own life. I must say I really enjoyed this book. It didn't focus so much on her marriage (s) as it did the institution of marriage. Yes she uses some "big" words and faith to get her point across, but it isn't over done.

As many poignant moments are in this book, there are just as many funny ones. My personal favorite was her children's pronounciation of her second husband's name. (You'll know it when you get to it!) This is an excellent Sunday afternoon book, soft and quiet, deep and insightful.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read Kate Braestrup's award-winning first memoir "Here If You Need Me" as background before I read this--her latest book--and I'm so glad I did, because she is someone I wanted to know more about. It was helpful, but certainly not necessary, as this memoir stands alone. Together, the two are a wonderful read.

Marriage and Other Acts of Charity is about the author's experiences with not only marriage, but life, love, God, parenting, organized religion, motherhood, grief, spirituality, and creating meaning when it seems impossible. I found this a beautiful book, another stunning memoir filled with poignant stories and hard lessons learned. The author has keen insights and a fresh way of looking at the world. She also has a great sense of humor.

Although the author is a minister, this is not really a religious book. No matter what you believe, you will be comfortable with this book. Rev. Braestrup works in the Unitarian Universalist church, a denomination that is known for being tolerant and inclusive; reading her memoir made me really like Unitarians. It made me feel like there is maybe even a place for me in a church that is devoid of mean theology. This is a peaceful and loving book for people of all faiths or no faiths.

It is about love and where and how you find it. And about the challenges that looking for it everywhere poses. You'll find the stories unforgettable.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I know that the author is a very well respected member of her community and that her late husband was truly beloved. I am from the area she lives in, and I well remember hearing about his death and the shock that came from it. I've talked to people who have heard her preach and know her, and I must say all this so I don't sound like I am criticizing HER when I say this book was just a little too "quirkier than thou" for my taste. By this I mean it that it seemed almost every sentence was designed to point out how Kate came from a more wacky background than you could imagine, that her first marriage was both more difficult and more passionate than any marriage you might know about, that her children are more interesting and that she herself has had a more unique journey of faith than anyone else. All of this might be true, but this book is said to be about MARRIAGE, not about her. I didn't see much about her marriage that I recognized as universal truths, or much about her faith that would comfort me. That's not to say that she doesn't have a strong faith, or she doesn't understand marriage---it just didn't come across her for me. I was more struck by her tales of her wacky mother the bird lady, or her wacky son peeing in popsicle trays, or her daughter named Woolie. If you like reading interesting and unique tales of families and friends, this is well-written enough so you should like it, but I wouldn't turn to it for marriage insight.
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