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Pastors' Wives: A Novel Paperback – April 30, 2013
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Ruthie Matters was raised Catholic, but when her husband hears a call to serve, she follows him to a megachurch in Magnolia, Georgia. There, among the suburban lawns and smoothie bars, she takes on the unpaid job of pastor’s wife and publicist for Greenleaf megachurch. Pastor Aaron’s wife, Candace, is, for better or worse, her role model, and she is a force to be reckoned with. Candace’s daughter-in-law, Ginger, struggles to balance two young children and her husband’s growing following, but she lacks Candace’s grace and confidence, not to mention her approval. The strength of this first novel by the author of Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death (2007) lies in characterization. Each woman is complicated enough to avoid stereotyping, especially Candace (although she does have some wonderful ice-queen moments). As each faces threats to her way of life—bad publicity, secrets from the past, temptation—each comes to her own conclusions about faith and her place in the community. Engaging, funny, and thoughtful, this is a book that can bring Christian-fiction and secular women’s fiction readers together. --Susan Maguire
“Riveting, perceptive, and funny. Once you pick up this novel, you won’t be able to put it down.” —Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
“Hilarious and moving. The characters are so real, I want to friend them on Facebook.” —A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“With a reporter’s eye for detail and a writer’s heart for the everyday truths we all face . . . a terrific first novel, fast-paced and fresh, full of sly wit and compassion.” —Laura Zigman, author of Animal Husbandry and Piece of Work
“Pastors' Wives is often surprising yet always emotional, set in a world most of us know only from the outside.” –USA Today
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen's debut novel, Pastors' Wives, offers readers a stirring and humorous look beyond the secrets shrouding the mega-business that is church in America. Pastors' Wives is a tender reminder that our ability to trust God is compromised when we can't trust one another. —Karen Spears Zacharias, author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? 'Cause I Need More Room for my Plasma TV
“Lisa Takeuchi Cullen is such a beautiful writer—lyrical, thoughtful, honest, direct—that she somehow tricked me into reading a book about romance and religion. I resent her deeply for this.” —Joel Stein, Time magazine columnist and author of Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity
“Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s Pastors’ Wives is comic, heart-breaking and ultimately full of hope. It explores the lives of three women living within the confines of a megachurch and the sacrifices and choices they must make. I adored Cullen’s characters and I love her witty prose. Cullen’s belief in love shines through and makes for a wonderful read.” —Anita Hughes, author of Monarch Beach and Market Street
“Cullen is a fabulous writer, and I was mesmerized by the women [of Pastors’ Wives] and their challenges. Faith never has easy answers, and I loved how she showed both sides of the Christian walk.” —Colleen Coble, author of Tidewater Inn and the Rock Harbor series
“Cullen’s three women are a perfect, complex trinity. Religious feeling is shown to shape lives, both the lives of believers and non-believers. The book will fascinate anyone who knows church life, and especially anyone who has had the peculiar experience of being a member of a pastor’s family.” —Bee Ridgway, author of The River of No Return
“By Chapter Two I had completely forgotten that I was reading fiction written by a crack reporter, I was too busy alternating between fits of laughter and multiple-Kleenex sobs. I can't stop thinking about what this book has to say about love, struggle, and commitment, not just to a faith, but to our families and our very selves.” —Lauren Sandler, author of Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement
“The characters are very realistically developed, and I could relate to them and their various struggles. Whether a man of God serves in a megachurch or in a small country church with less than fifty members, the struggles a wife faces remain almost the same. If you want an inside look at a pastor’s wife, then you will want to read Pastors’ Wives. From the moment the call is received, life changes.” —Laura V. Hilton, pastor’s wife and author of The Amish of Webster County series
“Don’t for one minute assume that a novel about pastors’ wives is not for you because within a few pages you’ll discover that the three protagonists’ hopes, struggles, and attempts to get through the hard stuff in life as best as they can mirror your own and those of everyone you know. Then you will spend the rest of the novel wondering which of these three women do I love the most—Candace? Ruthie? Ginger?—until you get to the end and realize that you just love them all.” —Donna Freitas, author of This Gorgeous Game and The Possibilities of Sainthood
“Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s funny and poignant debut novel is a marvelous read. With a humane and artful touch, she has taken a world that could be so easily caricatured and created rich, indelible, and wholly believable characters. Pastors’ Wives is a sharp, charming tale that will surprise you—I’m still shaking my head at the alchemy Cullen effortlessly pulls off by the end of the book.” —Amy Sullivan, National Journal correspondent and author of The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats are Closing the God Gap
“I flew through this book. You will fall in love with these women, all human, all funny, all struggling through their journeys in both original and relatable ways.” —Kristin Newman, TV writer and author of What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir of Sex on Vacation
“In her sparkling debut novel, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen captures so well the truth of faith—not the pretty facades we may put up for Sunday mornings but the messy reality of believing and struggling to believe. Her pastors’ wives aren’t the plasticized, perma-smiling automatons of stereotype, but complex characters whose journeys are bittersweet and often funny, just like life itself. This is a novel that's full of hope and full of heart.” —Jeff Chu, author of Does Jesus Really Love Me?
“Funny, generous, welcoming and ultimately deeply moving.” —David Van Biema, author of Mother Teresa: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint and Speaking to God: A Cultural History of the Psalms
“These women take vows of a whole other kind. Cullen has them rule their world, leaving you in awe of these gals behind the ‘thrones.’” —Carmen Wong Ulrich, TV host and author of Generation Debt and The Real Cost of Living
“Cullen reveals a remarkable depth of truth and strength of character within the women of Pastors’ Wives. I was captivated by their stories, cheered them on as friends, and was terribly disappointed when it ended. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. This is a must read for everyone who attends a church.” —Ane Mulligan, Novelrocket.com
“Pastors’ Wives is an engrossing, thought-provoking read. Cullen takes the stereotypical image of a pastor’s wife (devoted, dutiful, serving tirelessly behind the scenes without complaint) and turns it upside down and inside out by compassionately depicting ‘real’ women behind the role.” —Kelli Simpson, The Zen of Motherhood
“An insightful, spiritually honest story that accurately portrays the pressures that can accompany mega-church leadership and family life. A little edgy, sometimes raw, never cliché.” —Kelly Matthews, Faith Village
“Pastors’ Wives is a story with real depth and with likable characters who are trying to figure things out the best way they know how.” —Heather Adams, The Christian Manifesto
“In a word . . . compelling. This is not a sugar-coated or sinless tale of women, filling the unsung role of pastor’s wife in the twenty-first century. Instead, Pastors’ Wives delves into the high-profile, high-pressure world of evangelical, megachurch Christianity. Told from the point of view of a skeptical outsider, this raw look into the first ladies of modern megachurches offers drama, intrigue, and hypocrisy. Cullen is a gifted writer with a worthy story.” —Jenny Dean Schmidt, The Channelmom Show
Top customer reviews
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However, I've been involved with both types of churches and I thought the author did a fabulous job of capturing what it's like for pastors' wives in an independent mega-church situation.
Another thing the reader must keep in mind is that the book isn't written for the Christian market. It's a secular book. There is a very, very small amount of strong language used, but it's not over the top, and the Lord's Name is never used in vain. I think the author used it appropriately for the story and I am not one to use or read strong language as a rule.
I read this book on my own, bought it with my own money because I am a pastor's wife who has written a book about a pastor's wife. I was quite skeptical when I saw the title, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised with the author's knowledge and ability to empathize with the plight of women who live life in a fishbowl.
Did I like the outcomes of all the women's lives? No. Did I agree with all of their decisions? No. Did I approve of the lifestyles? Not really. But that's the beauty of telling a compelling story, isn't it? That conflict kept the story moving.
The book is not written from a Christian worldview. If you remember that, you will not be disappointed in the book. But if you read it from a Christian worldview thinking it's written by a theologian, you may not like it. I think some of the lower-star reviews came from people expecting it to be a Christian market book. It's not.
I enjoyed it. It kept me turning the pages. I was a little annoyed by all Ruthie's backstory, but that's a subjective criticism. I think the author has proven herself as a novelist with this book. I enjoyed it immensely. When I want to keep learning about the characters and what happens next in their lives, I know it's a good book. And I was sad to turn the last page. For that I gladly reward it five stars.
PWs may find threads of truth within this yarn having to do with loneliness, the search for safe and sane relationships with others of "like precious faith," and husbands who don't properly prioritize marriage and ministry.
While some reviewers found Cullen's book entertaining, even funny, I do not. However, each of the three main characters had some redeeming qualities (who doesn't). It was pleasantly surprisingly to discover the book is "pro marriage" despite the many challenges woven into each of her character's relationships. In all good conscience I could not recommend this book. It's an outsider looking in on a world and describing it from her very limited view. I feel she focused more on the characters flaws and falls rather than their faith. But if you're looking for what seems to sell or entice viewers you will appreciate Cullen's talent and this latest offering in the growing genre of flashy, fleshly, fiction with just enough sprinklings of real names and current events to make those who've always wanted to know about the women married to men who are married to God, think this is an accurate account. It is not!
Most recent customer reviews
Loved the characters and the
Universal issues of Love of God, Family
And Faith! Looking forward to a sequel
That's the central theme author Lisa Takeuchi Cullen explores in her debut novel, Pastors' Wives.Read more