Format: Trade Paperback
Fiction - Contemporary Women
How to do you review a book that left you so full, but yet so empty? This book could have been so much more than it was. Since it is published as Christian fiction, you'd expect to find at least something of Christ inside. But there was nothing. There were a few vague mentions of God, but some of them were taking His name in vain. This book, as well as Meissner's previous release, should not have been marketed as Christian fiction. She can write, that's for sure. But she's abusing her position by writing conclusions that are actually contrary to the Bible, and I'm ready to see her removed from Christian circles and into the general fiction market.
I've observed in her past releases that Meissner likes to take three women from different generations or time periods and draw them together somehow. I had not thought she'd mastered that device until this book. Meg, Sofia, and Nora come alive and relate to each other so well. Meg, the heroine, is an editor at a travel guide publishing house. Her Italian grandmother told her so many stories of her hometown of Florence that Meg has always wanted to go, and her father has promised that he'd take her someday. Sofia is an author living in Florence whose work draws Meg in, and when Meg finally gets to see Florence and meet Sofia in person, there's an immediate connection between them. Nora Orsini is a Medici princess from the sixteenth century, who whispers her words of wisdom to Sofia through many of Florence's famous works of art. Nora's story is included in short mini-chapters throughout the book.
The plot is deeply layered and complex, yet not hard to follow. Each character is well-drawn. I felt the emotions were beautifully expressed, whether disappointment, unexpected joy, uncertainty, etc. Like I said, Susan Meissner can write and this is the best of her work that I have seen. On the merit of the story alone, I'd recommend this to anyone. But when it comes to the resolution, Meissner stumbles terribly. If her point was merely that we're not just the products of our parents and circumstances, I could get behind that, because I agree fully. But her point is pretty much that life is what we imagine it can be. That while we do have to face some realities, it's occasionally okay and even a good thing to live in our fantasies. This is not normal or acceptable behavior. Yes, our imaginations are precious gifts from God. But we cannot define our lives. Our lives should be defined by what God says. When we need comfort, we should seek Him. When we need guidance, we should seek Him. When we need love, we should seek Him. Making up realities is not an adult way to behave, and not a Christ-like thing to promote.
I can use my imagination and think about how wonderful this book could have been, had Christ been included. Meg's journey could have taken her closer to Him, where she could have found the love and relationship and comfort she was longing for. She could have realized how He had brought her through and helped her with her past hurts and hard times, and that He had a plan for her future that was only just beginning to unfold. The beauty that she saw in Florence could have correlated to the beauty God was revealing of Himself in her life. But that's not reality. The reality is that Meg was left spiritually unchanged and believing that imagination can define our lives. What a disappointment.
You can read more about Susan Meissner and her releases at this link.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own.
Juvenile Fiction - Religious - Christian - Fantasy
Fiction - Christian - General