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

124 customer reviews

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Length: 401 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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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.)
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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)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GHNIGQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,184 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Phee Paradise on October 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By Janna R. Ryan on September 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By Richard Mabry on July 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By D. Porter on October 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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