Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review: In Name Only

In Name Only

About the Book:
1876, Philadelphia. Caroline Martin's life has finally taken a turn for the better. After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table. Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn toward Him.

My Comments:
I wanted to like it; I really did.  I did find it to be a better written better plotted novel than Gable's first novel, Emily's Hope (my review) and if you are looking for a Catholic version of Christian fiction and are looking for or can handle an extremely religious book, then you may like this one--most of the Amazon reviewers gave it five stars, but I won't.  

The basic story line was good.  However, the book was too long, and went on tangents unrelated to the main plot which did little except make the characters seem extraordinarily good.  For example, two of the servants marry and Gable makes a point of letting us know that they are of different races, though it plays no part in the book and frankly makes them more unbelievable than human.  There is one incident that is apparently miraculous and the answer to a prayer.  In general, the whole story needs to be tightened up and some of those incidental side stories dropped.  

Gable is obviously writing to bring forth the Catholic beliefs about marriage and family planning but given the time period about which she writes, ends up with some scenes that don't ring true.  For example, Caroline and her husband were married under duress.  They had not consummated their marriage.  He decides to become Catholic and then they decide they want to consummate their union.  He speaks to the priest who states that since they were pressured into marriage, their marriage wasn't valid and they would have to re-marry in the church before consummating.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think arranged marriages were still quite common at that time as well as marriages confected more for economic than romantic reasons.  While I'm sure that today a marriage that happened under the circumstances theirs did would be be declared null if one of the parties requested, in those days a civil divorce was highly unlikely and an annulment even more so.

One of the characters hits rock bottom and ends up in a Catholic church where, after speaking to a priest, he decides to reform his life and join the Church.  We don't enter the confessional with him, but we are told he goes, and what he did that required confessing.  We see the sacraments administered.  We hear passages from the Douay Bible.  We hear some of the Latin at mass.  We hear him explaining to his wife that Catholics don't worship statues and insisting that the one year old be baptized.  The book ends with Caroline looking back on things that have happened and realizing that God worked it all out for the best in the end.  

I purchased the Kindle edition of this book with my own money (well actually a gift card someone sent me for  completing some survey).  Grade:  C+

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