A contrived, predictable love story with underdeveloped characters.

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THE SEARCH

In Ressler’s debut romance, two former acquaintances, a widow and widower, reunite after 35 years, each searching for the love of a Christian partner.

In 1982, Kent Hartman is a thriving, middle-aged millionaire consultant who’s devoted his life to his Christian faith. His wife died 10 years ago, and although he’s ready to open himself up to a relationship again, he knows he can only love a woman who has a personal connection to Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Penny Carson’s parents die in a car accident. Kent was once friends with Penny’s older brother, and he knew the family well when he was a young man in the 1940s. He heads to Lancaster to pay his respects, and he looks forward to seeing Penny again. He last heard from her decades ago—a simple letter about her marriage to her high school sweetheart, Samuel Carson. He has no idea that Penny is also widowed, and that she, too, is searching for love with a devout Christian. As characters, both Kent and Penny seem impeccably moral, and they overcome their emotional hardships with a grace and kindness that’s too simplistic to be believable. Penny is the better developed character, and when Ressler reveals the abuse in Penny’s childhood, readers will have some sympathy. However, the primary focus is on the happiness and peace that Penny has found in her present, and unfortunately, peace and happiness don’t make for compelling fiction. The only threat to the main characters’ budding relationship is the fear that one of them might not really be the Christian that the other is searching for. But because readers know about both characters’ relationships with Jesus from the start, there’s no basis on which to build tension. Nothing is stopping the romance, so there’s nothing at stake and no room for Kent and Penny to grow.

A contrived, predictable love story with underdeveloped characters.

Pub Date: May 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-7812-0

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2017

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A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

THE BOOK OF V.

Esther, the Old Testament teenager who reluctantly married a Persian king and saved her people, is connected across the ages to two more contemporary women in a sinuous, thoughtful braid of women’s unceasing struggles for liberty and identity.

Biblical Esther, second-wave feminist Vee, and contemporary mother-of-two Lily are the women whose narrative strands and differing yet sometimes parallel dilemmas are interwoven in Solomon’s (Leaving Lucy Pear, 2016, etc.) questing, unpredictable new novel. All three are grappling—some more dangerously than others—with aspects of male power versus their own self-determination. Esther, selected from 40 virgins to be the second queen—after her predecessor, Vashti, was banished (or worse)—is the strangest. Her magical powers can bring on a shocking physical transformation or reanimate a skeletal bird, yet she is still a prisoner in a gilded cage, mother to an heir, frustrated daughter of an imperiled tribe. Vee, wife of an ambitious senator in 1970s Washington, finds herself a player in a House of Cards–type scenario, pressured toward sexual humiliation by her unscrupulous husband. Lily, in 21st-century Brooklyn, has chosen motherhood over work and is fretting about the costumes for her two daughters to wear at the Purim carnival honoring Esther. Alongside questions of male dominance, issues of sexuality arise often, as do female communities, from Esther’s slave sisters to Vee’s consciousness-raising groups to Lily’s sewing circle. And while layers of overlap continue among the three women's stories—second wives, sewing, humming—so do subtly different individual choices. Finely written and often vividly imagined, this is a cerebral, interior novel devoted to the notion of womanhood as a composite construction made up of myriad stories and influences.

A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25701-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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