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The Second Greatest Story Ever Told Paperback – April 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In 1988 the world is astounded when Ilona Coggswater, born in Cooperstown, New York in 1970, reveals herself to be the daughter of God. Ilona is a modern-day deity who guzzles Tab and Rolling Rock beer, and calls her heavenly father "Dad." She's a card-carrying liberal who despises fundamentalists, the National Rifle Association, and the often-vilified Randall Terry of Operation: Rescue. Ilona's story, her encounters with David Letterman, her visit to Hell with "Dad" and "Jerry," the devil, cry for a humor and wit that the author just doesn't deliver. This story is flat, enlivened only by the clever titles that Bechard has created for the books that anyone and everyone who has known Ilona has written. The political jabs are so pointed and relentless that this novel often seems to serve as the author's personal soapbox. Not recomended.
- Lydia Burruel Johnson, Mesa P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Filmmaker Bechard's first novel is the brash, broad, borscht-belt account of the life and ministry of Ilona Ann Coggswater, the daughter of God. Born in Cooperstown, New York, in 1970--an immaculate birth, natch--Ilona enjoys a relatively normal childhood, arguing with the nuns about religion and graduating from Cy Young High School as valedictorian. But her life shifts abruptly into high gear on Thanksgiving Day 1988, when the Pope interrupts a parade to acknowledge her as God's daughter. After that, matters follow the inevitable farcical route--Ilona does guest spots on Letterman and Larry King, moves with her model/bartender roommate Stephanie LaVasseur to a trendier Manhattan address, and signs an advertising contract with Coca-Cola--the proceeds to be divided among Greenpeace, Handgun Control Inc., Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International, and the Better World Society--coming out in favor of all the right causes (the Brazilian rain forest, abortion rights, a ban on fur and leather), dispensing widely her trademark bromide, ``Be Kind,'' and pausing only for offhand miracles (changing water into Rolling Rock or Tab) and theological elaborations worthy of Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (``Unless one is truthful and kind, they cannot see the kingdom of God'') before she meets her destiny a month later at the hands of NRA vice-president John Charlton Hanley. Lots of whimsical fun here, but not so many laughs: this satire is mostly as witless as its all-too-familiar targets. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419690116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419690112
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,499,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The most charming book you're ever likely to read. I found myself laughing out loud, yet crying in spots. I love Ilona. I want her as my savior...that would get this ex-Catholic back to church. It's the sort of book you almost wish you hadn't read yet, so you can discover it all over again, and re-experience the joy of reading it for the first time. Find this book! Savor it! I mean, really, the world savior as a Replacements fan. Can it get any better than that?
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Format: Hardcover
In Bechard's first book (as well as in the similar follow-up, Balls), he turns our understanding of gender politics upside-down. By placing women in positions previously unfamilar to us and them, he has created an often funny (and sad) look at the world we live in. Ilona, the daughter of God, is the most refreshing character in recent fiction memory; only the most jaded person would not root for her. This breezy satire never fails to make the reader laugh, think and, more importantly, feel. Although difficult to locate because of its "out of stock indefinitely" status, this is one book that is well worth the extra effort to find. Bravo, Mr. Bechard. I impatiently await your next novel.
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Format: Hardcover
My old roommate gave this to me to read. She said she reread it every year, and after reading it in all of 2 days, I can see why. I was laughing and crying and wishing that it were a true story. Coming from someone who has no use for any religion, let alone Christianity, this book would bring me get me to church in a heartbeat. I hear people speaking about how they love Jesus, well if Ilona were my savior, I could honestly say I would love her just as much. This was positively a wonderful book that I recommend to everyone.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent fiction about God's only daughter. It is clever and very entertaining. To surely be taken with a grain of salt, this novel is a splended new take on what the world would be like if God found the need to send another messiah to straighten it out. One of the most fasinating attributes is how the main character speaks of Jesus as any younger sibling would. I fully recommend this book for anyone who can laugh a bit at christianity and themselves.
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By A Customer on January 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a gift many moons ago, when I lived in New Haven. It is one of my absolute favorites. Hopefully some day soon I can purchase copies to share with others. If only I had known then...... Patiently waiting for the movie.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a delightful and very funny story of God sending down His daughter this time to save the world. One of her first miracles is to make Tab come out of the water fountains at school.

I read this book when it first came out and heard from someone who claimed to know the author that he was in talks to sell the movie rights, but refused when producers wanted Whoopi Goldberg to play Ilona. The author wanted Michelle Pfeiffer. Interesting.

If you're in the mood to laugh at the stuffiness in religion (this Christian did not find it blasphemous at all) then you will laugh and cry with this book. This book needs renewed exposure and a rebirth in light of the current attitudes toward making fun of religion. Let there be light!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Second Greatest Story Ever Told" may not actually live up to its name but it's pretty damn close. Anyone who enjoys the spiritual irreverence of Tom Robbins or Christopher Moore's "Lamb" is guaranteed a big kick out of this. As is anyone who just needs a bit of cheering up, to be honest.

It begins in the 1970s. Having already sent his Son (perhaps twice), God decides that humanity is still doing it wrong and sends his Daughter. She takes the human form of Ilona Ann Coggswater from Cooperstown, New York who, as she grows up, takes on a one-woman mission to save the world from itself and teach her simple, two-word message - "Be kind".

There's some wonderfully funny satire here as the Daughter of God faces the trials and tribulations of any major celebrity (including a hysterical scene in which she appears in a cola commercial directed by Adrian Lyne), some manic surrealism (Bechard's description of Hell is the stuff of genius) and the occasional spot of righteous polemic on environmental and political issues. However, all over every page, is a massive heart, presumably still bleeding from the pin wound it got when Gorman Bechard's stuck it on his sleeve. I think it takes guts to write such an unashamedly optimistic novel and to do it without a shred of cynicism or self-consciousness but it's precisely this that makes it so much fun to read.

The style of the writing (which often mimics the Bible, repetition and all) is distinctive and Bechard's "voice" feels strong and assured. The book is littered liberally with his obsessions (the author has boasted that this is the only novel in history to feature a fictional vesion of The Replacements) and one could easily level the accusation of self-indulgence at him.
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Format: Hardcover
A great story about a saviour who really might save something. Funnier than Imus' 'Gods other son', less obtuse than Morrow's also-classic 'Only Begotten Daughter', more in the league of Christopher Moore than Christopher Buckley, this is a heartwarming story, and one of my favorite all-time reads.
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