A worthy read for anyone stirred by the plight of marriage in modern times.

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THE DECISION

A theological drama that pits the sanctity of church law against the irrepressible nature of human desire.

In this complex debut novel, Bosworth explores the fraught issue of marriage. A newly minted cardinal, Harold Farley, is seen as a flawless adherent to church law, as he interprets it in an emotionally aloof, unyielding and cerebral way. The pope appoints him to head a new commission to investigate the state of marriage in the world—with particular emphasis on the United States—and to assess the church’s long-unrevised doctrine on matrimony. Farley’s mission is made tougher, however, by personal challenges. His secretary, Karen, has fallen in love with a man she longs to marry, but because he’s been divorced, the church forbids her to do so. Everyone, including Farley, concedes the man’s fundamental goodness, which makes the prohibition even more maddening. Farley also finds himself having romantic feelings for a close friend—and his predicament worsens when her dutiful husband suddenly dies in a plane crash. The author skillfully weighs the importance of church teachings against modern circumstances that threaten to render them draconian, if not obsolete. Farley’s personal travails force him to reconsider his staunch defense of laws that permit no exceptions. “I feel we’ll be locked into this commission for some time to come,” Farley says, “but I am hopeful that somewhere along the line, a compromise will be reached. We’ve simply got to find a solution.” The action can sometimes be very slow to unfold, and Bosworth has a tendency to overexplain his character’s thoughts rather than allowing them to reveal themselves through action and dialogue. It’s difficult, however, not to be impressed by the philosophical depth and balance of his book’s overall message.

A worthy read for anyone stirred by the plight of marriage in modern times.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1630638047

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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