Review Of The Guardian

This lovely story is a Christian fiction novel – I was a bit dubious at first, being a Pagan I was uncertain to how much religion was going to be in the book.  I think it is fair to worry about such things when one does not follow the religion in a book, or is not religious at all.  After all, there are books in this genre that all but shove the religious aspect down the throat of the reader.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this story.  The author does not overwhelm the reader with religion, which made me want to keep reading.

The Guardian is about Jodi Winfield’s struggle with her belief in God.  The story begins with an Amish family returning home from a day out; the family – mother Maryanna, who is a widower, and her young children are travelling in a horse and cart when  the youngest child accidentally falls out of the cart.

The next morning whilst out for her morning run, Jodi stumbles across the child.  She fails to find out her identity as the child speaks no English at all.  Jodi imagines all sorts of scenarios that have led to a child as young as the one she found wandering about the open countryside in her under garments.

She rings her cousin, a local police officer who she is house sitting for and after telling him a few facts about the child he suggests she goes along to the nearby Amish community.  He is certain the child must have come from there, he explains that the Amish community are always reluctant to involve outsiders in their business so it is unlikely they will have alerted the police about her disappearance.

When Jodi returns the small girl, who she discovers is called Sarah, to her family in Hickory Hollow, a friendship begins between herself and the child and her family.  Maryanna, Sarah’s mother feels eternally grateful for Jodi bringing Sarah home, but is not sure she should be so friendly with an Englischer – the name the Amish community gives to non Amish people.  They soon become good friends when Jodi is invited to be the temporary teacher at the Amish school.

The book deals a lot with Jodi’s lapse in faith.  She lost her faith in God after her beloved sister died.  She has even vowed not to have children of her own, much to the dismay of her fiance, Trent.   Jodi just feels as though she is in a bad place; her sister died and she is struggling with her grief.  Her fiance is about to go to Japan for a year to teach English.  Then she loses her teaching job in Vermont.

Before I read this book I had noticed some of the reviews really slating this book because of the religious theme to it.  I do agree with one, in a way you are misled into believing that the story is a mystery, rather than a Christian themed happy-ever-after affair.  But if you can push your feelings about the religion aside you will find that you can empathise with Jodi as she struggles with her grief, her loss of faith and her place in the world.

I found the story to be more believable with the plot it has, rather than having the character go off on some wild, crazy adventure in order to find herself.  That Jodi was thrust amidst such a devout group of people made perfect sense.  She witnessed Maryanna’s struggles, bringing up four young children after the death of her husband and battling with her conscience with regards to her near neighbour – and deceased husband’s best friend, a widower – who is clearly smitten with her.

Having Jodi go off and be wild, crazy and spontaneous may have made for a better read for some people, but the fact that she was always going to rediscover her faith would have felt really out of place; this plot made much more sense.  All of the religious references were necessary to the plot and certainly were not over the top at all.

I would give this book 4 stars **** and can certainly recommend it for lovers of this genre, or for anyone looking for a pleasant read.

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Review of One Step Too Far.

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

This is the story of Emily who has everything – a lovely, safe life in Manchester, husband, child, security.  Suddenly it is all ripped away from her – the author leaves us guessing right the way through the book as to what exactly has happened to cause Emily to ac as she did – and Emily ceases to be.  She runs away to London and becomes Cat, where she embarks on quite a seedy life for a while, desperately trying to escape the pain and torment that her past has caused.

She almost succeeds too, she gets a good job, has a life of sorts and finally begins to feel she has outrun her past.  But her new life comes crashing down around her on the anniversary of the day her life had previously fallen apart.

At the very beginning of this book one senses they will be rather perplexed by the plot.  The plot has more twists and turns in it than I was really comfortable with, it launches back and forth from past to present and from the main protagonist to less important characters, then back to the protagonist again.  This gives the story a rather disjointed feel, at times it feels very confusing and frustrating.

My biggest grumble, however, is at the very end of the story where we jump so far into the future.  This did not really work for me, the end of the present day story felt as though it had been unresolved and the lack of use of characters names in the narrative was very frustrating.

I am not sure how I felt about Emily/Cat.  Emily was a character I could believe in, but Cat seemed as disjointed as the story.  I guess that was the point, given all she was running away from and all she had endured.  I just felt unable to warm to her though and many times wondered how she had managed to let her life slip so out of control.  Again, the effects of grief and suffering can do many a strange thing to a person who was once of sound mind.

The big sting in the tale is Charlie.  It bugged me so much I read several reviews – whilst still only half way through the book – until I learnt the truth about Charlie.  This did not make me feel any better, it left me angrier at Emily/Cat, although I am pleased I had read up on that particular plot twist rather than having it thrust upon me in the natural way.

I have to give this book four stars.  It is a gripping tale of love and loss and makes the reader feel like they are enduring the roller coaster of emotions that the characters are experiencing.  The ending stops me from giving it full marks – sorry, I felt so dissatisfied with it all.

**** 4 stars