The Fine Art of Insincerity: A Novel
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Who knew unpacking family baggage and all that goes with it could be so fun! I waited in anticipation for this book to come out, and I wasn't disappointed. Angela Hunt excels at characterization and story weaving. While the issues are deep and emotional, these Southern sisters have mastered trivializing each other's problems. In showing how they know each other well and yet never know one another at all, Hunt displays her expertise as a novelist. I won't give away then ending, but Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation. It's a 5 star "must read."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
hree sisters, nine husbands between them, secrets and regrets all collide in this riveting novel by Angela Hunt.

This novel deals with a myriad of issues - in fact I was surprised by how thoroughly each of the characters were developed and how vivid their issues were presented. Three sisters raised part time by a grandmother who was married numerous times come together to clean out her house. Little did any of them know that this one weekend would change their lives forever. That for the first time they will be forced to drop pretenses and face the pain of tragedy in their lives.

Ginger thinks she has her life all put together - everything in its place. She sees her sisters as her responsibility - but then why shouldn't she. After her mother's death she was their care-giver.

Penny is the epitome of southern charm and at 49 years old still looks fit and in shape. Searching for love, romance and happiness she changes husbands like she changes shoes - always finding that they just don't fit right. Following in her grandmother's footsteps she justifies each divorce and remarriage. Bored with her seemingly dull husband she is on the prowl again.

Rosie, the youngest of the three is desperately searching for her grandmother's secret for hanging on. A thick impenetrable cloud of despair has beaten her down. She arrives at the cottage that weekend with plans of her own. Detached and set on saying her farewells she spends her time dropping hints to her sisters.

Ginger's life is devastated by a painfully close deception, Penny's version of truth is challenged and she is forced to make a choice, and Rose must finally decide to face her deepest hurt or perish to it.

In their grandmother's album the girls find a truth about God that will set them free from the bondage each of them is tied to.

"I came her hoping to find Grandma's survival secrets. Maybe the biggest of them has been staring me in the face for a long time....."

I received this book from Glass Roads Publication. Special thanks to the publisher, Howard, and Glass Roads Publications for this review copy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
No one writes special twists better than Angela Hunt. Relationships of three sisters are tackled in this Christian fiction novel. Each chapter is written in the point of view of one of the three sisters: Ginger, the first-born organized one; Penny, the flirt; and Rose, the baby, who carries a deep longing. Each sister hides behind some insincerity; all are revealed at the satisfying end.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I love, love, love Angela Hunt! She never disappoints. As a first-born, I connected right away with Ginger; I admired her, and later, I cried with her. Perhaps you will connect with Ginger or with another sister. I'll bet you see a part of yourself in one of them.

This would make a super choice for a beach book, or a book club title. Included is a Reading Group Guide, and with a Q&A interview with the author. I sincerely recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 16, 2011
3 sisters come together for a weekend to clean out their grandmother's beachfront house. It sounds quaint, except they barely know one another outside of their bond of growing up in a dysfunctional home. Rose and Penny have had multiple marriages and both are restless again. In contrast, Ginger's 27-year marriage is solid...or is it?

As they sort through their grandmother's belongings, each woman goes through her own emotional crisis and doesn't notice how much her other sisters are hurting. Gradually, the walls begin to break down.

This book deals with some heavy issues. A mother's suicide, abortion, marriage, divorce, widowhood, family dysfunction, adultery, and much more. It's an emotion-stirring story. I think readers will find themselves identifying with one of the three sisters. Ginger is the responsible one. Penny is the one in midlife crisis who dresses inappropriately and flirts with every man who comes around. Rose loves her dog to pieces, doesn't realize just how much her husband loves her, and grieves over the children she'll never have. If readers don't relate to one of these three, surely the eccentric grandmother, a cheating husband, or a husband suspecting his wife of plotting to leave will stir some emotional connection.

Angela Hunt writes well and draws the reader into the story well. The one thing I found missing in this story is spiritual depth. Although each sister realizes her own flaws at some point, there isn't a depiction of God's grace. Other than Ginger being on staff at her church, there isn't real spiritual depth here. There were several elements of the story that were morally wrong and characters didn't arrive at a point where they acknowledge this. I think the story would have been much more powerful if this had been developed more.

I received this book from Glass Road Public Relations for review purposes. My opinions are my own and my reviews are objective and honest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I always learn something from Angela Hunt's novels and The Fine Art of Insincerity is no exception. I'm thankful to have received a review copy of such a powerful and moving story! Once again Angela delivers an unexpected story with multi-dimensional characters that evoke a depth of thought and emotion which surprise the reader.

Three sisters come together for a weekend to clean their grandmother's house because it's sold. They are here to split up their grandmothers' belongings. Each hopes to find that special something of hers to keep their memory of her alive. Being together in this house they once had called home, reminded them of precious times with their grandmother and each other.

Angela Hunt quotes this scripture 1 Cor 13:3 ..."So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love." (The Message)

Love, the topic of the weekend, each saw the depths of their grandmothers' love. Love! Ginger didn't think her sisters knew about that kind of love. They'd been married so many times - Love hung in there when the times were tough, right? Ginger and Michael were married 25 years she knew that kind of love and that marriage took time and hard work. She felt her sisters just needed to work a little harder at their relationships before they called it quits.

In the middle of it all these sisters see, "People aren't really free to love someone until they know us, warts and all - and then the warts don't matter because it's so freeing to be loved completely! The truth will set you free - free from bondage and vows we made as children. When we are free it allows us to begin to love like Jesus."

Angela captures the camaraderie, love and joy sisters share as they play the role each learned to play in their family of origin. I could relate to this because of what I've experienced this with my three sisters. I appreciate these sisters' relationships and how they challenged and loved each other through thick and thin.

Can these sisters get the house clean, reminisce about the past, remember the special times, the sadness and still love each other at the end of the weekend? Could they trust each other with their heart ache, and their mistakes?

Angela Hunt is a brilliant, thought provoking writer who talks about unusual and interesting subjects in her books that grip the readers' heart, mind and emotions. Angela has the gift of writing a novel you think you have figured out - then she comes up with a few surprises that are a shock to her characters and also the reader. I love that.

Looking for a great summer read that will stir your heart, make you laugh and cry? You'll definitely want to read this one. Angela will get you looking at relationships, love and marriage in a whole new light....especially the intricate relationship between sisters. Thanks Angela for another entertaining surprising ride through time, relationships and life. It's definitely made me think about loving others in an honest, practical way. This is a rich story with loving colorful characters that won't disappoint.

The Book Club Network [...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One of the pleasures of book reviewing has been being able to read novels from authors that I have not read before. This pleasure came to me again with the latest book on my checked-off list, `The Fine Art of Insincerity' by Angela Hunt.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

Three Southern sisters with nine marriages among them - and more looming on the horizon - travel to St. Simons Island to empty their late grandmother's home. Ginger, the eldest, wonders if she's the only one who hasn't inherited what their family calls "the Grandma Gene" - the tendency to enjoy the casualness of courtship more than the intimacy of marriage. Could it be that her sisters are fated to serially marry, just like their seven-times-wed grandmother, Lillian Irene Harper Winslow Goldstein Carey James Bobrinski Gordon George?
Marital frustrations collide with poignant memories when the sisters gather to close up Grandma's treasured beach house for the last time. One sister faces her husband's infidelity, one plots the end of her life in pursuit of love, and one toys with the idea of leaving her loving but dull husband as the task at hand reminds them of their grandmother's love and life lessons. This "girls only" weekend forces them to finally unpack their family baggage, examine their relationship DNA, and discover the true legacy their much-marrying grandmother left behind.

Here is the biography of this author:

With nearly 4 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Elwell Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, including The Tale of Three Trees, Don't Bet Against Me!, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Hunt is one of the most sought-after collaborators in the publishing industry. Her nonfiction book Don't Bet Against Me!, written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Angela's novel The Note was filmed as the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movie for 2007 and proved to be the highest rated television movie in the channel's history. She often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers' conferences. She and her husband make their home in Florida.

Lately, I have been reading books in which the characters are close to me in age (not deliberately; it's just been working out that way). Such is the case with the three sisters in this book. By the time one reaches this age, one has been through a myriad of triumphs and trials. Such is the case with these ladies - Ginger, Rosemary, and Penny. Each chapter is seen from the point of view of one of the sisters. We get a insider's perspective on each one, seeing how she ticks. It took me a little while to distinguish between the three of them. It was hard to believe that they had the same parents, so different were each of them! But God makes each of us in our own unique way. These characters prove to me - and should to anyone who reads this book - that God is the Great Designer of each of us.

Only one of the sisters professed faith in Christ, and it took a while for her to acknowledge her faith (actually, it was more a matter of church attendance than an actual relationship). This book, although published by Howard Books, the Christian imprint from Simon and Schuster, is not overtly Christian. However, each sister seems to be closer to her Lord at the end than she was a beginning. The reason for that is the lesson that they learned from reflecting on the life of their grandmother, Lillian.

Rosemary is the sister who is contemplating ending her life, under the incorrect assumption that those she left behind would be better off without her. I found her perspective to be interesting; I recall having a similar mindset several decades ago:

Still, if the dead can yearn for things they knew before, I will miss nature. I'll miss birdsong, and the way soaring live oaks draw my gaze to the limitless arc of sky. I'll miss my animals: the light in my dog's eyes and the caress of a horse's velvet muzzle against my palm. (p. 111)

One of the items they discovered when the sisters were clearing out their grandmother's cottage was a tape recorder and some cassette tapes from their grandmother. I loved this prayer/piece of wisdom directed at her beloved granddaughters:

Overcome with a need to hear our grandmother's voice, I pull the tape recorder closer. A cassette sits in the machine, so I plug the cord into the wall, then hold my breath and press play. I hear the hiss of static, a quiet chuckle, and then my grandmother's crackling voice: "Dear Lord, how I pray for my girls. Be with young Rosie, Father, and keep her safe. Be with Penny, and let her feel your tender love. And Lord, bless my sweet Gingerbread. Teach her how to lean on you instead of trying to carry her on her own shoulders. Show her how to love. And help her be the guiding light that draws her family close." (p. 296)

I think this would be a great book to read with a girlfriend or two (or a group). There are insightful discussion questions in the back of the book. I loved Question # 6.:

6. At dinner on Sunday night, the granddaughters discuss what love is. How would you define it? Which of them comes closest to a good definition for love? Do you think any of these definitions have changed by the end of the novel? Whose?

In addition, there is an interesting question and answer session with Ms. Hunt.

I enjoyed reading this book! This book addresses some of the big issues in life: marriage, divorce, faith, love, relationships, etc.... I have to admit that each of the sisters drove me a little crazy at one point or another, but I was cheering for happiness and love in each one of their lives as I discovered more and more about them. I love the lessons of forgiveness and love that came through at the end of the book in each life. I know these are fictional characters, but I hope they all have lasting peace in their individual situations.

This book was published by Howard Books and provided by Glass Road Public Relations for review purposes.

Reviewed by Andrea Schultz - Ponderings by Andrea blog - [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2011
Here's something new for me.

I have not yet reviewed a fiction book--until today.

And this takes place in the perfect setting for starting off my summer: a three day holiday weekend in a beach cottage.

Here is the publisher's description of the story:

The Fine Art of Insincerity features three Southern sisters with ten marriages between them and more looming on the horizon. It takes a "girls only" weekend spent closing up Grandma's treasured beach house for the sisters to really unpack their family baggage, examine their relationship DNA, and discover the true legacy their much-marrying grandmother left behind.

And a bit about Angela Hunt, the author:
Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than 100 books, including The Tale of Three Trees, Don't Bet Against Me, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Her nonfiction book Don't Bet Against Me, written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She and her husband make their home in Florida with their dogs. You can learn more at AngelaHuntBooks.com.

So, with the introductions out of the way, my thoughts.

Like the characters in this book, I also have two sisters. And, I was reading this book over the long holiday weekend in a southern home very similar to the beach home they stayed in for their holiday weekend--complete with porch swing and all. Setting and characters aside, or included, this story stirred up emotions in me which I thought were dormant or even non-existent. It had me considering my relationship with my own sisters as well as other family relationships and friendships I hold dear.

As the title suggests, ultimately these sisters had been insincere with each other and actually with everyone else including they themselves their whole adult lives. Honestly, I kept mistaking the title of the book to be The Fine Art of Insecurity every time I glanced at the cover. Truly, that mistaken title is not too far off as well. Angela Hunt so creatively developed her theme and storyline with these sisters that the reader can sense that the one of the main reasons for each of their insincerity truly is their own insecurity.

This book is not only a good summer read because of its setting but is also a great wake up to facing the reality of life and relationships before it is too late. As is clearly portrayed in this book, we never know how little time we may have left to truly show our love to those who need it most.

Don't assume that because they are your family or lifelong friend(s) they know you love them. How have you shown them? Not how have you said it? How have your actions and unspoken words proven (or disproven) your love for them?

Trust me, I am preaching right back at myself with this one. Because of the wake-up call from this delightfully intrusive book, I pray I will make this the Summer of Love Lived Out toward my family and dear friends.

Disclosure: I received this free from Glass Road PR Blogger reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2011
I have always been a fan of Angela Hunt's. I love her work. She writes novels that are inspiring and fills them with characters that are full of flaws and amazing, heartfelt personalities. Her words shout loud from the pages and instantly capture me each and every time. So, when she had a new one to release, The Fine Art of Insecurity, I knew I HAD to read it! It's a lot different than what I have read from hers before, but it's certainly, by far, one of my favorites by her, next to The Note.

I just read a very suspenseful, thrilling book set in St. Simon's Island, and so it was quite a pleasant surprise to be able to visit it again, in another setting. I love the style of her writing in this one and the characters were beyond fantastic. I felt a connection with each character and loved how I felt as if each piece of the story was written to pull me straight into the middle of the novel.

These characters, these 3 sisters, dealt with so much emotion and heartache, I found myself praying for them and shedding tears for them. I wanted to wrap each one of them up into a big hug and tell them everything was okay! The 3 sisters each told their stories in their own way and each had a different and unique personality.

I really could go on and on about the sisters and their personal issues and lives, and what does or doesn't happen to them. I could. But, I won't. I don't give away spoilers! So, I will tell you this. This contemporary fiction novel is FANTASTIC! It is SO worth the time to read it. With the faith and the twists, and the amazing feeling you will get as you sit down and escape to St. Simon's Island, this 5 star novel is sure to be a hit among all readers! Definitely recommended!

*This review is based on a complimentary copy which was provided for an honest review*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
Although I have several of Angela's titles on my shelf, this is the first of her books I have read in a very long while. I have always considered her work exceptional and it seems it just continues to get better as time progresses. Ginger, Rosemary, and Pennyroyal apparently had a mother who favored plant names for her children. Rose and Penny have shortened their names to something a little simpler to fit a mouth around pronouncing. Though they've moved from their childhood home and lives have each progressed along their own independent track, phone calls between times that they are having a silence war amongst themselves are the last semblance of family and connection these women posess. Their Grandmother became what bit of a mother they had after their own could no longer be there for them. Summers became a time that Dad shuttled them off to Grandma and out from under foot. With no school and an island primarily focused on tourist business, summers may have otherwise been a carefree time for the girls. Now as grown women the house on St Simons is all they have left. Can the process of grieving and closing up Grandma's long empty cottage on the island till its new owner takes possession bring unity and understanding among these sisters despite the distance both emotional and physical that has been allowed to grow between them? At times it seems we are each so focused on our own troubles and struggles we are blind to those of people around us with whom we should be the most connected. Though the circumstances of this book are regrettable in that Ginger, Penny, and Rose are thrown into situations no one should have to handle especially a child, their Grandmother's influence begins to soak back into their lives in her absence as they choose what is most important to preserve the few joyful memories left of their childhood days. In the end they all three not only have to face hard truths about their own lives and how to clear the hurdles that have been developing in their personal lives but take the time and effort to recognize the hurdles facing their sisters, acknowledge those hurdles, and lovingly support each other maneuvering the accompanying valleys. Though truth is sometimes hard to swallow and treating others as we ought rather than as we'd like to feels impossible, God and faith are the rocks which give the firm foundation necessary to keep us on the path over which He directs us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
The three Lawrence sisters were as different as night and day, but they had a few things in common, they all loved their grandmother Lillian and each have been dragging around emotional baggage for years. When Lillian dies she leaves them a tiny cottage and when it finally sells the girls go on Labor Day weekend to clean it out, so as the trio reconnects they come to realize the things and money Lillian left them aren't nearly as important as the life lessons she left behind.
Ginger is the oldest sister who felt that she had to keep everything together, she is the sister that has what everyone considers the perfect marriage, she has sort of looked down on her other sisters because they have been married so often, but when she learns that her husband has been unfaithful how will she handle it?
Pennyroyal (Penny) is the middle child, she has been married five times. She has based her latest marriage to Bob on lies and she thinks its about to dissolve so she is on the lookout for husband number six.
Rosemary (Rose) is the youngest. She feels that she is the blame for the death of her mother, not to mention that she is grieving the loss of two babies. She dotes on her aging terrier and has made plans that she and her terrier will die together. She has convinced herself that everyone will be better off without her.

This was an interesting contemporary fiction that deals with several tough issues, such as divorce, suicide and grief and finding forgiveness. It was interesting how different the personalities of each sister was. I really enjoyed how the author allowed the reader to see the perspective from each sister, and she does it in a clear way that is never confusing. Rose was a character that was easy to feel sympathy for, I could easily understand why she would think Ginger didn't love her. I was a bit shocked at what Ginger advised Rose to do which ultimately cost her the chance of ever having children.
I think some of my favorite parts of the story where when the girls stumbled upon things that had them recalling bits of their past.
While I thought the end of the book was a bit rushed, overall I really enjoyed reading this one. If your someone who enjoys reading a realistic story about family relationships that just might have you examining your relationships with your siblings then you should defiantly pick up this one.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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