Title: Pastors’ Wives: A Novel
Author: Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Christian Fiction
What’s it like when the man you married is already married to God? asks Pastors’ Wives, an often surprising yet always emotionally true first novel set in a world most of us know only from the outside. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s debut novel Pastors’ Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical mega-church. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a fictional suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith—in God, in her marriage, and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf’s ”First Lady,” a force of nature who’ll stop at nothing to protect her church and her superstar husband. Ginger, married to Candace’s son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. All their roads collide in one chaotic event that exposes their true selves. Inspired by Cullen’s reporting as a staff writer for Time magazine, Pastors’ Wives is a dramatic portrayal of the private lives of pastors’ wives, caught between the demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love
I really enjoyed the concept of 3 totally different women, in totally different places with their faith and relationship with God to all come together under one roof. And what a big roof it is. Greenleaf is a megachurch and a half – in fact it is not so much a corner church but a whole world of its own – complete with orchestra’s, choirs, big screens and smoke machines that herald in the focus of the church – the Pastor. None of the problems that each of the three women face is as simple as they first appear. In fact they are busy trying to build up a façade to hide the fact that everything is not as wonderful as it looks, the reality is that believing is a struggle and being so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly use is a problematic as having lost your faith. Eventually the three women learn that they don’t need to work independently – they can work as a support team and build up what they have because alone they will lose all that they hold dear.
There is a strong Christian message in this book as you would expect in a book set within the framework of a megachurch. The work of Pastor’s wives is a crucial but unrecognised necessity. They are not interviewed, not paid but expected to sing, play music, lead youth groups, raise their children to the standard of behaviour that Church expects, entertain church notables, minister to other wives, know the Bible inside out and participate in all the bible studies and prayer groups. Above all they have to keep their man, the Church board and the partitioners’ happy. While author, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, was working as a reporter for TIME magazine she met a group of Pastor’s wives and she writes:”…What struck me most was their honesty. They shattered my preconceptions about these sweet ladies who supported their minister husbands above all. No—they were lonely, intelligent, wistful, and opinionated. Almost all of them wished their husbands weren’t pastors at all. Yet they remained devout…” The three women are very credible and felt that I could relate to them and understand where they were coming from. There is humour, pathos and drama and I will definitely keep an eye out for more of Cullen’s work.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.
For more about the author – Click Here
With thanks to Penguin Group – Plume Publishing and the author via Netgalley.