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The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow: A Novel of Bright's Pond [Kindle Edition]

Joyce Magnin
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is the story of an unusual woman, Agnes Sparrow. No longer able or willing to leave her home, where she is cared for by her long-suffering sister Griselda, Agnes has committed her life to the one thing she can do—besides eat. Agnes Sparrow prays and when Agnes prays things happen, including major miracles of the cancer, ulcer-healing variety along with various minor miracles not the least of which is the recovery of lost objects and a prize-winning pumpkin.

The rural residents of Bright’s Pond are so enamored with Agnes they plan to have a sign erected on the interstate that reads, “Welcome to Bright’s Pond, Home of Agnes Sparrow.” This is something Agnes doesn’t want and sends Griselda to fight city hall. Griselda’s petitions are shot down and the sign plans press forward until a stranger comes to town looking for his miracle from Agnes. The truth of Agnes’s odd motivation comes out when the town reels after the murder of a beloved community member. How could Agnes allow such evil in their midst? Didn’t she know? Well, the prayers of Agnes Sparrow have more to do with Agnes than God. Agnes has been praying to atone for a sin committed when she was a child. After some tense days, the townsfolk, Griselda, and Agnes decide they all need to find their way back to the true source of the miracles—God.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Quirk abounds in this tale of two sisters, Agnes and Griselda Sparrow. The titular Agnes forswears leaving home when she tips the scale at 600 pounds, and stays put and prays. When what seem to be miracles—healings from serious illnesses—occur, the residents of the small Pennsylvania town of Bright's Pond naturally attribute them to Agnes. Agnes's putative power attracts a stranger in need of an unstated miracle, and the plot thickens from there. To pull off such a quirky novel, the characters need to be vividly etched, the writing consistently clever and the plotting persuasive on its own terms. Magnin partly succeeds: she meets the clever quotient, but on the whole the book is uneven. Some of the explanations that account for characters' decisions aren't persuasive; some dark plot twists threaten to overwhelm the quirkiness; and the pacing of the first half of the book is slow. Still, Magnin will please those who like their faith fiction with a twist, even if not everything served at the town's Full Moon Cafe can be swallowed. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Joyce Magnin is the author of The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, chosen as one of the "Top 5 Best Christian Fiction Books of 2009" by Library Journal. She's written several short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children. Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups. She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

Product Details

  • File Size: 895 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (June 1, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,617 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fat Woman Devoted to Prayer October 5, 2009
The first half of The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow reads like a slice of life in a small town in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. It's full of quirky characters with names like Studebaker Kowalski and Personal Best. It's star citizen, Agnes Sparrow, is a 700 pound woman who prays miracles for her neighbors. Their attempts to honor her are quite humorous, even though she tries to give God the glory.

The narrative is cute and funny, but I began thinking the story could have been told in a lot less space. Then, halfway through the book, the events and people began to change. It starts to feel like a completely different book. Magnin surprises the reader with a series of unexpected events that change the direction of the story. As they play out, she develops several layers of complex themes. The book becomes a parable about idolatry, a treatise on group think, a lesson on faith and a personal narrative about betrayal. This is a book that would generate interesting discussions in a high school English class. Like all good literature, it provokes thought without pronouncing explicit truths. In spite of this it does have a satisfying ending, with a hint of "happily ever after."

Pros: Wonderful characters and a great setting. Deep themes that leave you pondering.

Cons: The sudden shift in the plot may deter the reader who enjoyed the first half of the book. The characters' views about prayer are more superstition than religion. The local church is important to the story, but the minister offers weak spiritual leadership.

The original review was posted on Pix-N-Pens ([...]).
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky characters are fun September 29, 2009
This is quite possibly one of the odder books I have reviewed this year. Right off the bat, in the first chapter I am caught off guard. The central character in the book is Agnes Sparrow (as the title indicates) and we meet her immediately through the eyes of her sister, Griselda, the narrator. We see how she is the primary caregiver for Agnes who is 700 lbs and can't get around on her own. In the opening pages Agnes declares to Griselda that she will no longer leave their house, its just too hard. It was touching to see the dedication Griselda has for her sister, she was young when she decided that she would make Agnes her priority in life because she was so tired of people making fun of her and she wanted to be there for her.

The whole town reveres Agnes because she spends all day everyday in front of her living room window with her notebook praying for the people of the town. Miracles have happened and people attribute it to Agnes. Of course she hates that attention and tries to relay that it is God answering the prayers, not anything she is doing. Much of the beginning of the book is commotion over the townspeople wanting to erect a sign on the interstate that proclaims, "Brights Pond - Home of Agnes Sparrow". They also want a statue in the middle of town. She wants none of it and it is up to Griselda to stop it from happening.

The town characters are so well done - what a kooky cast to support Griselda and Agnes! Cora, Zeb and Vidalia are their closest friends while Eugene is a royal pain in the butt and Stu and Boris are Agnes' biggest fans and are the ones trying to get the sign up and the statue erected. Hezekiah comes into the picture after he hears about Agnes' miracle working powers in another town and he comes to find Agnes and get his miracle.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, small-town story with a moral and a twist July 30, 2009
If the title weren't enough to pique my interest, the characters drew me in almost immediately. They're quirky, well-portrayed, and remind me all too well of the people from the small town where I grew up--that is, except for Agnes Sparrow. She's unique, to say the least. The plot is well-developed and guaranteed to keep the reader guessing. All in all, it's a quick, fun read that conveys a message. If you get to know Agnes and the townspeople around her, you won't soon forget them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life really is just messy October 21, 2009
I just finished reading tonight while my sheets tumbled in the dryer on "wrinkle care" waiting for me to unload them and make up the bed. My husband finally gave in and made the bed himself. He's sleeping soundly and I'm typing away.

I laughed out loud when I encountered examples of Joyce Magnin's wit... the Digman Funeral Home on the dead-end street, Al Capone the thieving mutt, and Personal Best. Who would have ever thought to have the sign makers paint "Agnes Swallow"... but at least, as the characters said, it was another bird name.

As I made my way through the first half of the book I kept thinking something extraordinary was about to happen in Bright's Pond. Possibly it would involve the drifter, the policewoman, or our favorite prayer warrior... but the book just kept trudging along as life continued on for the townspeople, and especially for Griselda, Agnes's devoted sister.

As other reviewers have noted, the second half of the book turned off the pleasant, though quirky, country road we were traveling and took us into some dark, scary woods where people judge and gossip and even kill.

I appreciate all of the questions that The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow made me ask myself, and the conclusion that seems to follow: life really is just messy, and the Christian life is lived out by messy people who have encountered the grace of Jesus Christ.

This book is worth your read... enjoy Magnin's plays on words and be sure to stop and ponder the questions at the back of the book when you're done.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed!
It has been a long time since I enjoyed a book as much as this one. Joyce Magnin catches the flavor of small town life and created memorable characters that are multifaceted. Read more
Published 23 days ago by The Sycamore Review
3.0 out of 5 stars simple reading
I enjoyed the story but wanted more depth. When I thought about reading the ending I couldn't I had to read the whole story to know what happened. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Green Acres
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I am hooked on this series!
Published 4 months ago by Sharon
4.0 out of 5 stars The more I read the better it got
very different kind of book . The more I read the better it got.
Published 5 months ago by Nancy Lindley
1.0 out of 5 stars wonderful story
It was very good had surprising things happen but keep me reading couldn't wait to finish it, I like a happy ending I would recommend to everyone it was a terrific story. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ann Wagner
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others
Published 5 months ago by Carolyn Palmertree
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Really enjoyed this story. Definitely a different story line from the normal
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars easy read
Interesting book that had several unexpected twists to keep you reading. Unfortunately it correctly shows how mean spirited some people can.
Published 8 months ago by Margaret A. Para
2.0 out of 5 stars Strange book
Strange book. Huge woman, taunted as a child over her weight, begins praying for everyone in small town. Miracles happen. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jerry R. Blackerby
2.0 out of 5 stars Praying for better luck next time
On some levels this book is tragic and funny, but it's also wordy, repetitive and simplistic. The characters have no depth, and the story seems contrived. Read more
Published 9 months ago by SMR
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More About the Author

Joyce Magnin is the author of the popular and quirky Bright's Pond novels. She is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor. When she's not writing or reading Joyce enjoys baseball, needle arts, video games and cream soda but not elevators--especially glass ones. She listens to many kinds of music, shamelessly confesses to enjoying American Idol, has never eaten a scallop or sky dived. Joyce has three children, Rebekah, Emily and Adam and three grandsons, Lemuel, Cedar and Soren and one son-in-law, Joshua. Joyce lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania with her son, Adam and their crazy cat, Mango, where she cares for an eighty-year-old onion plant.

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