Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Review - The Passion of Mary-Margaret

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Passion of Mary Margaret

Thomas Nelson (March 10, 2009)


Lisa Samson


Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

Her novel Embrace Me has been named as one of Library Journal's books of the year.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.

She stays busy by writing, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying...some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.


Mary-Margaret accepts a calling that surpasses her wildest dreams . . . and challenges her deep faith.

When Mary-Margaret Danaher met Jude Keller, the lightkeeper's son, she was studying at convent school on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay. Destined for a life as a religious sister, she nevertheless felt a pull toward Jude-rough and tumble, promiscuous Jude.

After sojourning as a medical missions sister in Swaziland, Mary-Margaret returns to the island to prepare for her final vows. Jude, too, returns to the island, dissolute and hardened. Mary-Margaret can hardly believe it when the Spirit tells her she must marry the troubled boy who befriended her all those years ago, forsaking the only life she ever wanted for a man she knows she'll never love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Passion of Mary Margaret , go HERE


I have struggled with what to write in this review for over a week. Lisa Samson is a talented writer. I loved Quaker Summer, which was a Women of Faith Novel of the Year for 2007, and Embrace Me (which I reviewed here) was excellent as well, although it did take me a bit out of my comfort zone. The Passion of Mary-Margaret is receiving many stellar reviews, but while it contained a great message of grace available to all, I was more troubled than satisfied while I was reading it and at its conclusion. And I would not recommend giving it to a friend without reading it first.

Mary-Margaret is writing down the story of her life for her fellow sisters to read upon her death, and the transitions between the present and the distant and recent past were a bit awkward and difficult for me to follow. She has a very close relationship with Jesus, and while I love the idea of ongoing conversations with the Lord (as we are instructed to do, for the Bible tells us to pray continually), the mystic element and the nature of their relationship made me a little uncomfortable at times. Because it is written in the context of the Catholic faith and Mary-Margaret is a sister (not a nun, and the difference is explained in the book), the multiple references to Mary-Margaret's desire to marry Jesus, especially when juxtaposed with the title and some physical closeness described between the two, were a little unsettling. I had a few other theological disagreements with the book that I won't go into here. I am just one person, though, so don't just take my word for it. Kim at Window to My World has a different viewpoint, so I urge you to read hers. Shauna also has a good review. And read it for yourself.

Happy Discerning Reading!


View blog reactions


A Stone Gatherer said...

I love your honesty! It helps so much reading what you all think of the books you review. Discerning is right!

sara said...

I always know I will get an honest review here!!

I have not yet read any of her books!

Kim said...

Linda, thanks for stopping by my Window! I did not agree with a LOT of the theology represented in the book - Catholic mysticism is blatant paganism if you want me to be blunt - but I chose to look at the underlying message in my review rather than the medium she used to present it.

Again, a lot of my response lies within the fact that I'm dealing with a lot of hands-on issues within the women's rehab program where I volunteer, and this story was a very real reminder of how ugly human depravity is in the lives of many, and how we must love them and share the gospel with them.

I won't ramble on. I am just thankful our community of readers can share our thoughts about books like this one that are what I think of as HARD to read.

Thanks again for stopping by. I posted an interview with Lisa today that gives a bit more behind-the-scenes thought behind the Passion of Mary-Margaret.

Window To My World

Beverlydru said...

I appreciate your caution. Especially when recommending reading to others. I posted my Pay it Forward today. : )

Anonymous said...

Linda, I appreciate your thoughtful review.
I am so not Catholic but accepting there were inherent things going into the story I would disagree with made it easier to just press through those.
I have known a couple of people in my lifetime who have seen and talked to Jesus in real time. They were not "mystics" or weird. One was a 15 year old boy. I loved her relationship with Jesus because that, for me, took away the Catholicism from the story and brought the truth of who He is "home".
Anyway, I loved the story in all its beauty from ashes, lovely and sordid, prophetic and past.
Again, thank you for an honest review.

Shauna said...

Thanks, Linda! I love Lisa and her books and wanted to love this one too, but I just didn't. It's still a very good book, but I had enough issues with it that I couldn't give it the glowing review I normally give her books.

Suzanne said...

Hi Linda--

Thought you wrote up a very fair review. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in wanting to give a nod to the author for her hard work (which you did by mentioning the other books she wrote that you loved) yet also giving your unbiased opinion. I read the other reviews, too.

I still think you should write a book...maybe about being a reviewer?! ~Suzanne

Melissa said...

I popped over from Lisa Writes to read your review (she knew I read it, too). I had very mixed feelings about this book, which made me sad because Quaker Summer is one of my all time favorites.

I didn't even write a review, because I didn't know what to say.