by Douglas Wilson
258 pages / 2019
Some books only merit a quick read, others should be slowly savored, and a select few are so good you just have to read them out loud to your wife. This is that third sort!
Savannah Westmoreland, a self-assured school teacher, finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. Except that it wouldn’t be accurate to call what the town’s biggest businessman feels for her love. Desire…hunger…lust. But not love. And while the church’s newly arrived pastor is interested, and seems a worthy sort, he can’t get past the walls Savannah has set up.
But events – and friends – conspire against Savannah, putting her repeatedly in the pastor’s company. And even as he uses these moments to make a good case for his marriable merits, Savannah is still actively discouraging him. Why? Something from her past still has a hold on her. The pastor is trying to get around this obstacle, but the businessman is trying to discover exactly what her secret is so he can use it to control her.
This is Douglas Wilson’s third novel, but first romance. It is the second of his books that I’ve read out loud to my wife, the other being Flags out Front. That’s really the highest praise I can give a book. But lest you think Wilson is only a two-hit wonder, I’ll share that his other novel, Evangellyfish, won Christianity Today‘s 2012 best fiction award. This man knows how to tell a story.
As you might suspect of a book written by a Reformed pastor, there is a lot of theology, from the dinner table conversations to the metaphor underlying the whole story. But conversations about God are a great way to learn about God, and even though the book has a pastor right in the mix, this is not a sermon disguised as a story. This is, instead, great fiction telling something true. And if you think the ending a tad contrived, I might agree with you. But I’d also invite you to consider what the author is saying about this God of wonders that we serve.
And speaking of truth-telling, I should own up that as much as I enjoyed reading this out loud to my wife, she didn’t get to hear the whole story. That’s because when she fell asleep I just had to keep reading.