From Grant (Beloved Ghosts, 2015, etc.) comes a novel about a minister’s wife in desperate need of her husband’s attention.
Gabrielle, an attractive young woman whose “full breasts were the only fleshy part of her body,” finds herself at a difficult moment in her marriage to Mark, a motorcycle-riding pastor. “From the beginning,” the narrative says, “it had been a silent battle between her and Grace Lutheran Church for Mark’s attention.” As time accumulates after the couple has their first child, the battle becomes more heated. While Mark busies himself with a controversial opportunity for the church to expand, his love life with Gabrielle dwindles to nothing. “Her touch was supposed to entice him. She didn’t want to ask him to make love to her. She shouldn’t have to!” In addition to her feeling rejected by her husband, she’s overly attached to her young son, Peter: “It terrified Gabrielle to think of Peter going out into the world without her, learning things she didn’t want him to know, picking up habits she didn’t like.” Will Gabrielle’s desire, anger, and loneliness boil over like a volcano or sink into a detached domestic existence? Since the book opens with a scene that involves a dead body, clearly the reader can expect something of the former. Enter Allysan, a “musky” woman who attends prayer meetings at a place where “They believe God is active, not just a remote being that has to be invoked through correct words and structured worship services.” What sort of effect might an active God have on a decisively inactive libido? Featuring men and women who are as complex as they are familiar—the conservative albeit hip pastor, the judgmental though tender mother—the nuanced and believable story paints its picture in striking colors. The only bump in the road may be its predictability, given the premise of a disinterested husband. That aside, the book doesn’t fail to provide an affair that is anything but languid.
Astutely detailed if a tad unwoven.