Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: Come Sunday by Isla Morley

I usually have four to five books sitting by my comfy blue office chair at a time. Depending on the mood that I am in I will read one book, then another, and then hopefully finish at least one during the month! When I saw an advertisement of Come Sunday by Isla Morley (Picador, 2009) in the Fall issue of Poets and Writers Magazine I knew that I had to read this book; and as I thought, I stayed up late to finish it, there was no way I was going to go to bed and not read to the end!

The two main characters, Greg, a Methodist pastor and his wife Abbe live in Hawaii. Abbe is a transplant from South Africa and is working as a freelance writer before meeting her husband to be. They have one child named Cleo who is killed in a car accident.

Needless to say once you start reading you can't stop. Come Sunday is a page turner, we follow Greg and Abbe as they mourn both their dead child and their soon to be dead marriage. Greg eventually takes a parish in Fresno, CA, leaving his parish, house, and wife behind. We follow Abbe as she visits her native Paarl South Africa where she deals with her difficult past, her alcoholic father and battered mother. We see the racial divide of South Africa as well as the sheer stark beauty.

Morley is truly a wordsmith. The writing is gorgeous and the sentences are crisp, there are no cliches in this book! Likewise the story revolves around the liturgical year beginning on Good Friday and ending on the Feast of Ascension a year later. This structure provides ample meaning as the turns of events hinge on certain feast days in the Church, drawing from their theology and context.

Come Sunday was not an easy read. Many times I caught myself getting mad at Morley because I didn't like the way the plot was turning. Of course this is my problem not Morley's! I wanted a certain character to act a certain way and others to get revenge for what was done to them. I wanted more forgiveness and less hurt.I wanted the book to end a different way too, but again this shows you how good Morley is, she leads you to places that you won't expect.

Come Sunday is also a theodicy asking deep questions about the existence of God and why there is evil in this world. Morley delves deep into Greg's vocation as a pastor and the "Church" people in his parish who don't always act in a Christian fashion. As a pastor I laughed at certain parts as Morley described some people to a "t" with their particular affections and mannerisms, people whom I have known over the years.

Do yourself a favor, go out and buy a copy of Come Sunday, do it now and find yourself lost in a book that delights mind, heart, and spirit.