Who wrote this book and when?
Francine Rivers published this in 2003.

Has there been a film version?
No.

Who are the important characters?
Paul Hudson – a pastor called to a dying church
Eunice Hudson – Paul’s godly and beautiful wife
Timothy Hudson – Paul and Eunice’s son
Samuel Mason – one of the elders of the church
Abby Mason – Samuel’s wife, a strong woman of God
Stephen Decker – a recovering alcoholic and new Christian, also a contractor and carpenter

What’s it about?
When Paul Hudson is called to the dying church of Centreville, he sees it as a great opportunity to bring growth and glory to God. And the aging elders are nervous and excited at his youthful exuberance. However, Paul soon lets his focus get clouded when it comes to what “growth” means to God. The consequences of his actions continue to grow over decades, as he alienates both his wife and his son, then friends and church members, and strives to serve himself.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It’s by Francine Rivers, which almost guarantees it will be a bestseller on the Christian lists.

Do I recommend you read this book?
No. Her other books are much better.

How did this book make my list?
A friend recommended another of her books, “Redeeming Love,” which I enjoyed, so I checked this one out as well.

Has it won any awards?
No.

Favorite quotes:
“No one ever said it would be easy. That’s where the battle has been from the beginning. Even Jesus faced it in the garden. Remember? ‘Thy will, not mine, be done.’ Life is ever thus. The mind and heart are Satan’s battleground. Jesus and God’s Word are your strength and shield.” – p 316

Anything else?
I’ve heard Rivers’ women of faith series is pretty good…maybe I’ll try those next.

Personal thoughts:
I got the frustrating introduction to this book from my mother. I was only a few pages into it when she saw me reading it and said “ugh, I didn’t like that book at all!” Not that we share similar literary tastes at all, but it’s never nice to hear something like that about a book you’ve just started. That being said, I’m not exactly sure what it was about this book which bothered me. I didn’t really care for many of the characters, but they were lovingly developed and the story was intricate and full. Maybe it wasn’t something I was interested in, or I felt that has been reiterated too many times in my life. Either way, it isn’t enough to turn me from Rivers as an author, but I still would recommend other books by her much faster than I would recommend this one.

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