Hosted by Amy Boucher Pye

Having featured a spate of Advent, New Year and Lent books in the book club recently, I’m happy to return to some fiction. Here are two novels published by Christian publishers with one very well-known author and one debuting.

Francine Rivers is a master at creating a fictional world in which the characters journey towards God through Jesus Christ. Her latest, The Masterpiece, features two people who both suffered major trauma when they were young. How each character dealt with that trauma has affected who they are as adults, and how they see the world.

As an author Francine doesn’t shy away from what some might see as controversial aspects of the Christian faith. For instance, without giving too much of the plot away, she includes a near-death experience in which demons of many kinds rush towards the character, revealing how if they reject God in this life they will face the terrors of hell. Today demons and hell can be disparaged or ignored as too provocative or fundamentalist by Christians and those in the culture, and so her inclusion of them seems daring.

In this book I appreciate in particular how she shows God speaking to his people – each character hears his still, small voice, and they each have the choice whether or not to obey it. She portrays this speaking in a natural, not too super-spiritual way.

I raced through the novel, for the world she creates feels authentic and real, with characters who face struggles, challenges, and joys to which I related. Her fans will be delighted.

The other book is by a new author in the Christian fiction scene, Bethany Turner. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck charts the life of a romance novelist – think steamy shades of grey – after she becomes a Christian.

She’s divorced, lonely, very wealthy, and learning how to live as one who loves Jesus – and increasingly, her new pastor. The dialogue is fast and fun, and I enjoyed the journey of the characters when romance blossoms much earlier than usual in a Christian rom-com, for then we get to see how their love works out in real life. (Well, at least in this world concocted by this author.) The protagonist travels a bumpy but authentic journey of growing in her faith and in her understanding of herself in this novel. I recommend it for a light but engaging read.

So tell me, what are you reading? Do send in your reviews, either via e-mail or post, or through the Woman Alive book club Facebook group. Three of our five reader reviews this month came from that online group – and we have some wonderful discussions.

Happy reading!