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Pastors' Wives: A Novel Paperback – April 30, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ruthie Matters was raised Catholic, but when her husband hears a call to serve, she follows him to a megachurch in Magnolia, Georgia. There, among the suburban lawns and smoothie bars, she takes on the unpaid job of pastor’s wife and publicist for Greenleaf megachurch. Pastor Aaron’s wife, Candace, is, for better or worse, her role model, and she is a force to be reckoned with. Candace’s daughter-in-law, Ginger, struggles to balance two young children and her husband’s growing following, but she lacks Candace’s grace and confidence, not to mention her approval. The strength of this first novel by the author of Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death (2007) lies in characterization. Each woman is complicated enough to avoid stereotyping, especially Candace (although she does have some wonderful ice-queen moments). As each faces threats to her way of life—bad publicity, secrets from the past, temptation—each comes to her own conclusions about faith and her place in the community. Engaging, funny, and thoughtful, this is a book that can bring Christian-fiction and secular women’s fiction readers together. --Susan Maguire

Review

“Riveting, perceptive, and funny. Once you pick up this novel, you won’t be able to put it down.” —Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

“Hilarious and moving. The characters are so real, I want to friend them on Facebook.” —A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

“With a reporter’s eye for detail and a writer’s heart for the everyday truths we all face . . . a terrific first novel, fast-paced and fresh, full of sly wit and compassion.” —Laura Zigman, author of Animal Husbandry and Piece of Work

Pastors' Wives is often surprising yet always emotional, set in a world most of us know only from the outside.” –USA Today

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen's debut novel, Pastors' Wives, offers readers a stirring and humorous look beyond the secrets shrouding the mega-business that is church in America. Pastors' Wives is a tender reminder that our ability to trust God is compromised when we can't trust one another. —Karen Spears Zacharias, author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? 'Cause I Need More Room for my Plasma TV

“Lisa Takeuchi Cullen is such a beautiful writer—lyrical, thoughtful, honest, direct—that she somehow tricked me into reading a book about romance and religion. I resent her deeply for this.” —Joel Stein, Time magazine columnist and author of Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity

“Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s Pastors’ Wives is comic, heart-breaking and ultimately full of hope. It explores the lives of three women living within the confines of a megachurch and the sacrifices and choices they must make. I adored Cullen’s characters and I love her witty prose. Cullen’s belief in love shines through and makes for a wonderful read.” —Anita Hughes, author of Monarch Beach and Market Street

“Cullen is a fabulous writer, and I was mesmerized by the women [of Pastors’ Wives] and their challenges. Faith never has easy answers, and I loved how she showed both sides of the Christian walk.” —Colleen Coble, author of Tidewater Inn and the Rock Harbor series

“Cullen’s three women are a perfect, complex trinity. Religious feeling is shown to shape lives, both the lives of believers and non-believers. The book will fascinate anyone who knows church life, and especially anyone who has had the peculiar experience of being a member of a pastor’s family.” —Bee Ridgway, author of The River of No Return

“By Chapter Two I had completely forgotten that I was reading fiction written by a crack reporter, I was too busy alternating between fits of laughter and multiple-Kleenex sobs. I can't stop thinking about what this book has to say about love, struggle, and commitment, not just to a faith, but to our families and our very selves.” —Lauren Sandler, author of Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement

“The characters are very realistically developed, and I could relate to them and their various struggles. Whether a man of God serves in a megachurch or in a small country church with less than fifty members, the struggles a wife faces remain almost the same. If you want an inside look at a pastor’s wife, then you will want to read Pastors’ Wives. From the moment the call is received, life changes.” —Laura V. Hilton, pastor’s wife and author of The Amish of Webster County series 

“Don’t for one minute assume that a novel about pastors’ wives is not for you because within a few pages you’ll discover that the three protagonists’ hopes, struggles, and attempts to get through the hard stuff in life as best as they can mirror your own and those of everyone you know. Then you will spend the rest of the novel wondering which of these three women do I love the most—Candace? Ruthie? Ginger?—until you get to the end and realize that you just love them all.” —Donna Freitas, author of This Gorgeous Game and The Possibilities of Sainthood

“Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s funny and poignant debut novel is a marvelous read. With a humane and artful touch, she has taken a world that could be so easily caricatured and created rich, indelible, and wholly believable characters. Pastors’ Wives is a sharp, charming tale that will surprise you—I’m still shaking my head at the alchemy Cullen effortlessly pulls off by the end of the book.” —Amy Sullivan, National Journal correspondent and author of The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats are Closing the God Gap

“I flew through this book. You will fall in love with these women, all human, all funny, all struggling through their journeys in both original and relatable ways.” —Kristin Newman, TV writer and author of What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir of Sex on Vacation

“In her sparkling debut novel, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen captures so well the truth of faith—not the pretty facades we may put up for Sunday mornings but the messy reality of believing and struggling to believe. Her pastors’ wives aren’t the plasticized, perma-smiling automatons of stereotype, but complex characters whose journeys are bittersweet and often funny, just like life itself. This is a novel that's full of hope and full of heart.” —Jeff Chu, author of Does Jesus Really Love Me?

“Funny, generous, welcoming and ultimately deeply moving.” —David Van Biema, author of Mother Teresa: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint and Speaking to God: A Cultural History of the Psalms

“These women take vows of a whole other kind. Cullen has them rule their world, leaving you in awe of these gals behind the ‘thrones.’” —Carmen Wong Ulrich, TV host and author of Generation Debt and The Real Cost of Living

“Cullen reveals a remarkable depth of truth and strength of character within the women of Pastors’ Wives. I was captivated by their stories, cheered them on as friends, and was terribly disappointed when it ended. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. This is a must read for everyone who attends a church.” —Ane Mulligan, Novelrocket.com

Pastors’ Wives is an engrossing, thought-provoking read. Cullen takes the stereotypical image of a pastor’s wife (devoted, dutiful, serving tirelessly behind the scenes without complaint) and turns it upside down and inside out by compassionately depicting ‘real’ women behind the role.” —Kelli Simpson, The Zen of Motherhood

“An insightful, spiritually honest story that accurately portrays the pressures that can accompany mega-church leadership and family life. A little edgy, sometimes raw, never cliché.” —Kelly Matthews, Faith Village

Pastors’ Wives is a story with real depth and with likable characters who are trying to figure things out the best way they know how.” —Heather Adams, The Christian Manifesto
 
“In a word . . . compelling. This is not a sugar-coated or sinless tale of women, filling the unsung role of pastor’s wife in the twenty-first century. Instead, Pastors’ Wives delves into the high-profile, high-pressure world of evangelical, megachurch Christianity. Told from the point of view of a skeptical outsider, this raw look into the first ladies of modern megachurches offers drama, intrigue, and hypocrisy. Cullen is a gifted writer with a worthy story.” —Jenny Dean Schmidt, The Channelmom Show
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452298822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452298828
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,401,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm Lisa Takeuchi Cullen. I used to be a journalist. Now I make stuff up.

In both fact and fiction I'm drawn to worlds I once knew little about. My debut novel, "Pastors' Wives" (Plume/Penguin 2013), is about three very different women married to pastors at a Southern evangelical megachurch--the kind with the Jumbotrons and the power band. It was inspired by an article I wrote while I was a staff writer for Time magazine. It's a People.com 2013 summer reading pick, which I mention because it might inspire you to give it a try. Also, Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of "The Happiness Project," calls is "riveting, perceptive, and funny. Once you pick up this novel, you won't be able to put it down."

My first book, "Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death" (HarperCollins 2006), is about weird and wonderful funerals and burials. To report it, I crashed funerals for a year with my newborn on my back. It was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, which again I mention because it might inspire you toward the "buy" button. Also? Mary Roach ("Stiff") called it "a must-read for anyone who plans on dying."

I write TV pilots too. In 2013 I wrote and produced a drama for CBS called "The Ordained," about a priest who quits when he hears a confession about a deadly plot against his politician sister. It starred Sam Neill, Hope Davis, Audra McDonald, Jorge Garcia and Charlie Cox, and it was awesome. Really, it was. But it didn't make CBS's fall line-up. I blog about this and other humiliating episodes from the life of a writer at www.lisacullen.com.

Before, I was a staff writer at Time, and before that, its Tokyo correspondent. I have degrees from Columbia and Rutgers. I was born and raised in Kobe, Japan, home of the overpriced beef and apparent namesake of a basketball star. Now I live in New Jersey with my family. I love my adoptive home state, and if you insult it I will fight you. Please visit my website at www.lisacullen.com, my Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/LisaTakeuchiCullen, and/or follow me on Twitter @lisacullen.com. I'd be delighted to meet you.

Customer Reviews

This is a terrific read and I highly recommend it!
Heidi Bee
Anyway, point here is, this is why I very much like when I get a random book to review or am lucky enough to win one here or there.
Shelly Hammond
I also loved the characters: Ruthie, Ginger, and Candace.
Stacie D. Wyatt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer C. Mcilwain on May 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
Having been a pastor's wife for 21 years now, I was immediately drawn to the title of Lisa's book. I also understood going in that the book was not necessarily published under the genre of "Christian Fiction" and Christian fiction it is not. It is a novel (fiction) with Christian/religious themes. Having said that, I was still a little taken back with some of the language and one (what I would consider) pornographic portion of the book.

However, I would have to say that the book is very well written. Cullen's characters are well developed and very shortly into the book you feel like you know these women. I like how Cullen shared the story from all three women's perspective. She rotates the story from chapter to chapter from each vantage point, but the story flows well. I also thought she did an exceptional job of filling the reader in on the backstory of each woman and did so fluently.

My favorite Pastor's Wife in the book was Ginger. I immediately was able to relate to her on several levels. Cullen did a really good job of painting a clear picture of the gospel showing the power of God's transforming grace through Ginger's story. Anyone who reads this book will get a vivid and true-to-life picture of the struggle many face, pastor's wife or not, in finding grace and learning to lean on and trust in God. Whether the picture of the inner workings of a megachurch that Cullen presents in her book are realistic or not, I wouldn't know. However, if Ms Cullen is still working out her own faith (and I could sometimes almost feel what I guessed to be the authors' personal religious tension in her writing), I certainly hope and pray she finds a Bible believing and gospel infused body of believers to walk out her journey of faith with.

Thank you Litfuse Publicity who sent me a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Jinnette on May 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BeckyD on May 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Pastor's Wives is a "behind the scenes" slice of life of the Greenleaf mega church, in which three prominent pastors wives are represented.

I'm going to begin with the not-so-good stuff. The book started a little rocky for me, for a few reasons. From the very beginning, I had a hard time "buying" the story of the first wife to whom we were introduced, Ruthie, who was uncertain about everything, from her religion, to her faith (two very different things), to her husband's calling, and in particular, about her own place in their future together. That this prominent mega church would hire on a new pastor without clarifying the faith/belief of the wife, was hard for me to accept. The reason this felt disingenuous is because I know from personal experience (having been a church administrative assistant for years, and been intimately involved in hiring pastors in both large and small protestant churches), that it's standard practice to interview BOTH husband and wife when hiring for pastoral positions. This practice is specifically in response to the biblical view of marriage in Genesis 2:24 & Ephesians 5:31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh," and therefore, are in accordance with each other in the calling to ministry. The absence of her faith was something they even discussed in their marriage, so her husband, Jerry, was under no misunderstanding that she might have been equally yoked with him in his beliefs. Again, this would have been one of the first criteria for offering Jerry the pastoral position. Honestly, I kept waiting for this to be addressed, but it was only Ruthie who seemed to be concerned that it might be a problem.
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