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The Sunday Wife: A Novel Hardcover – September 4, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Finely drawn characters and complicated social intrigue make King's second novel (after Making Waves in Zion) a charming read. When Dean Lynchs ambitious preacher husband, Ben, is assigned to a pulpit in the small Florida town of Crystal Springs, Dean is resigned to the prospect of yet another church-owned house and the necessity of putting aside her own beloved music (she plays the piano and the dulcimer) in favor of the congregations choir. Orphaned as a child, the retiring Dean has spent 20 years of marriage in the shadow of her overbearing, charismatic husband, always feeling out of place. But when she befriends Augusta, a wealthy, well-born, caustic beauty whose attendance at the Crystal Springs Methodist Church would be Ben's greatest coup, Dean finds herself coming out of her shell and tangled up in secrets she is not prepared to handle. The only false note comes from the gay couple Augusta befriends, who border on stereotype. The rest of King's secondary cast, which includes a sympathetic psychic and the magnetic but sinister former preacher at Ben's church, is a captivating bunch. King has written a truly heartwarming story, a tale of turbulent emotions and the vagaries of public opinion in a small Southern town; she has a sure winner here.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For 20 years, Willodean (Dean) Lynch has been molded into what her ambitious, upwardly mobile minister husband and his congregation consider to be the perfect preacher's wife. Then she meets Augusta Holderfield, a free spirit who encourages her to break loose. The more her husband and his too-pious congregants try to smother her, the more liberated Dean wants to be. Unfortunately, she learns the hard way that freedom can come at a very high price. Told in the first person and heavy on Southern atmosphere, this novel is peppered with Dean's wry observations. All aspects of institutional religious hypocrisy, intolerance, ultraconservatism, and general self-righteousness are fair game as Dean discovers who she really is. King, who is married to novelist Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides), has proven herself to be an extraordinary author in her own right. Fans of Patricia Gaffney and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings will enjoy this extremely well-written book. Essential for libraries of all sizes. Shelley Mosley, Glendale P.L., AZ
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1 edition (September 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786869054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786869053
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cassandra King is the author of five novels, most recently the critically acclaimed Moonrise (2013), her literary homage to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Moonrise is a Fall 2013 Okra Pick and a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) bestseller. It has been described as "her finest book to date."

Fellow Southern writers Sandra Brown, Fannie Flagg, and Dorothea Benton Frank hailed her previous novel, Queen of Broken Hearts (2008), as "wonderful," "uplifting," "absolutely fabulous," and "filled with irresistible characters." Prior to that, King's third book, The Same Sweet Girls (2005), was a #1 Booksense Selection and Booksense bestseller, a Southeastern Bookseller Association bestseller, a New York Post Required Reading selection, and a Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month Club selection.

Her first novel, Making Waves in Zion, was published in 1995 by River City Press and reissued in 2004 by Hyperion. Her second novel, The Sunday Wife (2002), was a Booksense Pick, a People Magazine Page-Turner of the Week, a Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month selection, a Books-a-Million President's Pick, a South Carolina State Readers' Circle selection, and a Salt Lake Library Readers' Choice Award nominee. In paperback, the novel was chosen by the Nestle Corporation for its campaign to promote reading groups.

King's short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Callaloo, Alabama Bound: The Stories of a State (1995), Belles' Letters: Contemporary Fiction by Alabama Women (1999), Stories From Where We Live (2002), and Stories From The Blue Moon Café (2004). Aside from writing fiction, she has taught writing on the college level, conducted corporate writing seminars, worked as a human-interest reporter for a Pelham, Alabama, weekly paper, and published an article on her second-favorite pastime, cooking, in Cooking Light magazine.

A native of L.A. (Lower Alabama), King currently lives in the Low Country of South Carolina with her husband, novelist Pat Conroy, whom she met when he wrote a blurb for Making Waves.

For more information about Cassandra King and information about upcoming events, please visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Janet Shultz on March 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
I couldn't put this book down and found the characters very believable and far from being one-dimensional. The negative reviews of this book seem to be very lame. Many of the negative reviews are from people who read the book because Cassandra King is married to Pat Conroy. Humph, and then complained because it wasn't written like a Pat Conroy novel ! ?! Some of the negative reviews left me wondering if the reviewers even read the book, and if they read the book, how they couldn't help but draw similarities between the characters in the book and those we meet in real life.

Some negative reviewers here felt Ben, Dean's minister husband, to be underdeveloped as a character in this book. I think his portrayal in the book is perfect, real characters such as Ben live one-dimensional lives. They live only for themselves and other people that come in and out of their lives have very little influence on such characters. Failing to develop this character was certainly not an oversight of this author, Cassandra King, I'm sure it was an intentional representation of just such a character.

Just as the "Bens" of this world exist, so too, do the "Deans" of this world and usually they find each other. Unlike real life, many "Deans" never find an "Augusta" to come along and save them. I loved King's Augusta character and found her to be a combination of a couple of my close friends. I was so annoyed with one reviewer's comments about the "unbelievable" characters in this story; I couldn't help but wonder if this person lived a one-dimensional life. The reviewer found it hard to believe that Dean stayed with Ben for 20 years. Here is the exact quote: "I gather that she stayed with Ben for 20 years because of her background and her current situation as a verbally abused wife.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By rebelmomof2 VINE VOICE on May 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
The last few times I was in a bookstore, I would see this book sitting on the shelf. I almost bought it once but thought, no, I better not. I finally caved and bought it last week. As soon as I could, I picked this one up and fell in love with Willowdean "Dean" Lynch. I have to admit that I've always wondered what it would be like to be a pastor's wife. But I was not prepared for the exasperation I felt for the characters (especially for Dean's husband, Ben, who is such an incredibly selfish character) nor did I expect to feel grief on Dean's part when she experienced a difficult tragedy.

King really draws the reader into her story and the reader finds empathy with the characters as well. No matter how exasperating they can be ~~ or how wonderful, they are based on people like you and me. The descriptions of Florida are ones that I never thought of ~~ especially since I don't know anything about Florida.

There is one flaw with this book ~~ somewhere in the middle of the book, the story line just went from fast-paced to drifting ~~ with no conclusion in sight. Then towards the end, it was more put-together, unlike the first part of the book. It did make for some confusing moments as if there were two writers writing the book. But Dean, the main character, was the same throughout the book and she was the one I was interested in reading about.

This is a perfect summer beach read! It's interesting and wonderful about love between two people who have lost so much only to find so much joy. There are stories about the parsonage that makes me wonder if people are really that hyprocritical. Then again, everyone's human. So if you're looking for an entertaining read ~~ pick this one up. You'll be rooting for Dean before long!

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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book through to the end just to be done with it, and it left me very annoyed (maybe also with myself for sticking with it, hoping it would improve). The motivations for most of the characters' actions did not ring true. The author spent too much time on plot and not enough time on the inner workings of the characters. The result is an array of characters whose actions often didn't seem believable.
As I tried to figure out why this book has so many stars, I saw that one reviewer entered her five-star review five times-good grief. I think the book could have been vastly improved by a third person viewpoint, so perhaps we could have gotten insight into the various characters. As it was, we were limited to Bean's thoughts. Along with being an unrealistic character in general, she decried the hypocrisy of others throughout the book. Then she ended up there herself, and I think we were supposed to applaud it.
I gather that she stayed with Ben for 20 years because of her background and her current situation as a verbally abused wife. Sorry, again this wasn't fleshed out. Ben didn't have hot-and-cold cycles; he was just permanently chilled and a very flat character. He didn't threaten to harm her if she left him; in fact, other than her cooking, she seemed to be a detriment to his career. Bean moved back and forth from being headstrong, willful, and defiant to being an obsequious wimp. We all have paradoxes within us, but hers were not believable.
I found the liberal viewpoints in the book refreshing, although the Methodist denomination took a slamming, which is not realistic. There are a huge number of Methodists with liberal views (perhaps not in Florida, though...Southern Methodists can speak with more authority on this).
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