on February 19, 2010
In her second novel, Jennifer AlLee explores a topic not often addressed: a pastor who puts his congregation's needs ahead of those of his wife. Nick and Maura marry young, excited at the prospects of their first church, but neither are prepared for the demands it will make on their relationship. A separation ensues. Now, six years later, Maura moves back to the small Ohio community when she inherits an old theater with the stipulation that she must live with her husband for six months while remodeling the theater. It's a dance of propriety as the two face the opinionated congregation and explore the plan God has for their future.
The story is tender and woven with grace. Jennifer raises many questions about the relationship of a pastor with his congregation and his family. Does God call a man or a couple? What roles are appropriate for the wife of a pastor? It gave me a new perspective in what it must be like to live the "fish bowl" life. A thought-provoking, but gentle book from a lovely author.
on February 7, 2010
I really enjoyed The Pastor's Wife. It was a powerful story of healing and restoration, and of dealing with things the very things the heroine had tried to avoid. I totally understood her pain and found her inner dialog to be appropriate and believable. Without giving away any spoilers, there was one thing that kept it from being a five star book in my estimation. But if I tell you exactly what that is it will spoil the story. I can say it has to do with someone's response to news that I found to be a bit over-the-top to where it bugged me as opposed to inspiring me. Other than that issue I found this to be a very powerful and healing story. I even got a bit teary eyed when the head of the board at the church softened toward the heroine. The plot continually moved forward and had no slow spots. The tension kept building and in so many ways was a very beautiful portrayal of how love for your spouse is supposed to last a lifetime. Obviously, that is not always the case and sometimes for very valid reasons. The message in this story was excellent and I highly recommend it.
When Maura Sullivan married Nick Shepherd, a new pastor, she had no idea what she would be competing with. After being married only a few months and feeling far too neglected, Maura leaves Nick and the small Ohio town where she felt like she never quite fit in. Now, six years later, she has returned to the people and place she abandoned because her name and Nick's name are listed in a will. All she can think about is taking care of business and getting back out of town again, but God has other plans for Maura and Nick.
When I first read the description for this book I did not think I was going to like Maura because she abandoned her husband and his congregation. But, as I read the story and learned more about Maura, I was able to understand her pain and what she went through. The Pastor's Wife is a fairly short book and is easy to read, but it is filled with a lot of deep spiritual relevance. Healing and forgiveness are the main themes throughout this story and Maura and Nick both have a lot of healing to do and they both need to forgive each other. I was delighted with this book and really enjoyed watching the changes that went on, not just between Maura and Nick, but also with the townspeople and the congregation. There are many Godly lessons to be learned in this short and sweet story that I liked very much.
on October 4, 2011
The book begins well with characters who are thrown into an uncomfortable, although implausible, situation. The two protagonists are likeable, and the plot is set up nicely. Themes like freely given forgiveness and finding one's own gifts are dealt with well.
However, the "secret" is easily discerned almost immediately, and that means the rest of the book is highly predictable. In fact, the only part I did not find extremely predictable made me mad. The husband blamed the wife for not repeatedly bludgeoning him over the head to get him to hear her. That smacked to me of another rendition of the wife always being wrong.
There were thoughtful parts of the book to be sure. Just not enough for the book to get more than two stars.
on May 23, 2011
The book was well written and an easy read, but there were too many problems with the plot. The conditions of living together in the parsonage for 6 months in order to receive an inheritance was just not believable and set the stage for a predictable "easy reconciliation."
I also had a hard time believing that a woman would leave her new husband on such short notice, without a single conversation, and then neither the husband or wife would contact the other in any way for the next 6 years.
It was an entertaining read, but I spent much of the book thinking, "you've got to be kidding me."
on June 7, 2011
I had high hopes of this novel, which were unfortunately not fulfilled.
The premise of the young paster's wife being out of her depth coping with a husband who should have had a good swift kick up the crotch, a strange community and being pushed into parrish work, is okay as it stands. However, for me this plot had me gnashing my teeth with frustration.
The news that she has to spent six months living with him in order to achieve her inheritance and he, a sizable donation to the church is okay - just - but for the parrish council to be interfering and sucking their teeth over the two living in the parsonage together is ridiculous. It's none of their business! After all, the couple could be reconcilingfor all they know.
The story begins with the wife landing in the lift (elevator) and coming face to face with the husband, to whom she has not spoken for six years. Being as they were only married five months before she left without a word, this is not plausible. Any woman worth her salt would have announced with greast drama that she was leaving and why.
It takes six years for the husband to realise his past neglects, where it seems to me he would have thought about it sometime during the time they were separated and at least gone after her to talk. This twit accepts the word of her father after one phone call! Maybe she was right to stay away for six years. Then there is the fact that the wife leaves him without at least confronting him over his neglect, suffering her misfortune alone. The least she might have done is bounced some crockery off his head. Now that she is back in the town her lack of recrimination, for me is a glaring ommission. The forgiveness too "forgiving," and her reaction not natural.
A disappointing read all round.
on May 21, 2012
My husband has been a pastor for 30 years. I thought this book was excellent! It addresses things that most people don't think about. People in the congregation don't realize how many times their pastor's family gets put on the back burner so the pastor can take care of someone else's needs. There are sermons to write, Bible studies to prepare for, prayer meetings to lead, weddings & funerals to do, Deacons'/Trustees' meetings to attend, business meetings to moderate, hospital visits to make. Sometimes there's no time for wife & children. I could so identify with this wife. I thought this was a great read & have told the ladies in our church they should read it!
on October 6, 2011
I started this book and finished it last night (all in one evening). I couldn't put it down. The premise of trying to be someone you aren't and running away vice facing problems head on were very thought provoking. I cried in portions of the book and was very touched throughout.
As a Christian, I really love how the topics were handled from a Biblical standpoint. But it wasn't so much a "preachy" book as it was one of opening your eyes to the possibility that being a Christian isn't about restrictions, it's about freedom to be what God wants you to be, not what others think you should be.
Yes, Maura is a Pastor's wife, but she doesn't fit the mold that "most people" think a Pastor's wife should fit. Never mind that God doesn't say the Pastor's wife must be "this" or "that". As Christians we are each given Spiritual gifts and determining where your gift and passion lay is an amazing thing.
Thank you for this beautiful story!
on October 23, 2012
I wanted to like the characters and the book. There were just too many 'huh??' moments. (Spoiler alert)
. After 5 months of marriage Maura ups and leaves presumably in the night with only a note left behind and the story begins 6 years later with Nick and Maura still married but living separately.
. Even though the husband/pastor Nick has a brief cell phone conversation with her prior to her leaving, he has no clue that she really needed him home?
. After one phone call to Maura's dad, Nick decides never to contact Maura again? He's a new husband and pastor - he's not that clueless.
. They're separated for 6 years with neither one initiating a divorce? I can see why Nick wouldn't (he'd be out of a job), but Maura? She's a young woman, wouldn't she want to get on with her life?
. Miss Hattie, the woman who left the theater to Maura and a donation to Nick's church with conditions of the two living together for 6 months, had no idea that the theater would entice Maura back. If Maura had talked about it, this might have been believable, but one scene reveals she hadn't. She was a 24 year old new wife who was pretty clueless about what her passions and gifts were - she only knew she was miserable.
. Did I miss something? Where did the money come from to renovate the theater? The sale of Maura's dad's diner in California didn't leave her enough money to either buy a home OR another business there. Other than saying the plans were 'in budget' there's no mention of money.
. The 'secret' was so evident almost from the beginning of the book. And yet, according to the text, the last few months the newlyweds were hardly talking or interacting with one another. Wifely duties, I suppose.
. Maura revealing the secret after they reconciled for the first time brought only a 'huh??' to the plot. Tension-acceptance/forgiveness-quasi-reconciliation - more tension (breast cancer scare) - forgiveness -reconciliation - yet more tension (revealing the secret) - short lived anger by Nick - forgiveness - final reconciliation. So contrived! There's a decent story to be told and it could have been told from the beginning when all the issues could be revealed, discussed and dealt with. It would have made for a rich, complex plot dealt with over time.
For those that know me and my wife please note, "she did not write this novel." Yes, she is an author but this wasn't one of her stories, although I hope she enjoys reading it.
The story opens with a very implausible situation, the reading of a will and the requirement in the will that a couple who has been separated for six years (but not divorced) move back in together so that they can each receive a their portion of this inheritance. Now, while I say implausible, you know what, strangers things have happened in our culture and the more I thought about it the more I thought, I know people who would do something just like this.
So, here is the main gist, Maura (the Pastor's wife) left her husband Nick within months after he took his first pastorate in a small town in Ohio. The reason, well he appeared more married and committed to his congregation than he did to his wife. This was displayed in the way that he was always leaving to met other peoples needs and not attending to his own wife's needs.
I certainly can understand and relate to this problem. I spent years as a volunteer Police Chaplain and was called out at all times of the night and on holidays and was always leaving my family somewhat up in the air. If you aren't careful they have a good reason to start to feel neglected.
Maura felt neglected, and when a very serious personal matter came about her husband wasn't there for her. So, she left him. But they never divorced. She went back to California to live and work with her father in their family business. Nick stayed in Ohio and continued to pastor.
One of Nick's congregation dies and leaves him a gift in her will. She also leaves Maura a gift in the will. The gifts are fairly significant. For Maura, the gift is the unencumbered deed to an old Theatre that was a great source of delight to the small community in it's prime, but it needs to be fixed up and re-opened. The gift is something that Maura desires because she has a flair for drama and wants to see the Theatre remodeled.
For Nick the inheritance is a gift to his church that will allow him to do some of the ministry items that he has been unable to do because of finances.
The problem, Miss Hattie made a provision in the will that they couldn't receive their gifts unless Maura moved back into the parsonage to live with Nick for a minimum of six months. Scandalous! Well, not really, they are husband and wife. So, was Miss Hattie trying to re-unite them? Well, of course.
The rest of the book is predictable, but still well written and fun to read. I enjoyed getting to know Maura and Nick and coming to understand their love for each other but their misunderstanding of each other.
I believe that the lessons they both learn are well thought out and well presented. They are Biblical in nature as well as touching on true emotional needs and problems that real people face.
So, while the story is predictable it is still a very fun read and will give you some good life issues to think through and apply to your own life and relationships.