Pastors' Wives, by Lisa Cullen

Pastors' Wives: A Novel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 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 megachurch. 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.

MY THOUGHTS: If you are used to sleepy little books in the Christian genre, ones where you know exactly what everyone will do because they're all quite perfect God-followers, hold on for the ride!

This book was birthed after the author wrote an article about pastors' wives for Time magazine, investigating and being a part of their lives for two years.  Although the book is fiction, this is real stuff, authentic people who don't fit the mold we insist on putting ministry families into.  These are ladies struggling with their own faith, struggling with their identities, struggling with the balance between responsibility to God, to the church, to their families, and to themselves.

As each woman goes through a personal crisis, we watch her evolve into her true self.  We see the motives and intent behind the actions the rest of the world sees and, all too often, judges.  And we are reminded that pastors' wives are women just like we are.  

The author's style makes it very easy to forget you're reading a fiction, and instead makes us think we're getting a peek into the personal diaries of these struggling women.  I could hardly put this book down.

Despite that the epilogue wrapped up most of the major plot lines, there were still some things left open, making me think--hope--that there will be a sequel.  I highly recommend this book for adult readers. (See below for a warning.)

PARENTAL RATING:  R. Be advised that there are a few curse words sprinkled throughout this book, and references to mature subject matter such as prostitution, marital relations, and pornography.  If the book were a movie, it would only receive a PG-13 rating, but I wouldn't recommend it for teen readers.

**I received an ARC of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Pastors' Wives publishing date is set for April 13, 2013.

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