Thursday, June 9, 2011

‘The Fine Art of Insincerity’ by Angela Hunt – Book Review

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One of the pleasures of book reviewing has been being able to read novels from authors that I have not read before. This pleasure came to me again with the latest book on my checked-off list, ‘The Fine Art of Insincerity’ by Angela Hunt.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

Three Southern sisters with nine marriages among them – and more looming on the horizon – travel to St. Simons Island to empty their late grandmother’s home. Ginger, the eldest, wonders if she’s the only one who hasn’t inherited what their family calls “the Grandma Gene” – the tendency to enjoy the casualness of courtship more than the intimacy of marriage. Could it be that her sisters are fated to serially marry, just like their seven-times-wed grandmother, Lillian Irene Harper Winslow Goldstein Carey James Bobrinski Gordon George?
Marital frustrations collide with poignant memories when the sisters gather to close up Grandma’s treasured beach house for the last time. One sister faces her husband’s infidelity, one plots the end of her life in pursuit of love, and one toys with the idea of leaving her loving but dull husband as the task at hand reminds them of their grandmother’s love and life lessons. This “girls only” weekend forces them to finally unpack their family baggage, examine their relationship DNA, and discover the true legacy their much-marrying grandmother left behind.  

Here is the biography of this author:

With nearly 4 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Elwell Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, including The Tale of Three Trees, Don’t Bet Against Me!, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Hunt is one of the most sought-after collaborators in the publishing industry. Her nonfiction book Don’t Bet Against Me!, written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Angela’s novel The Note was filmed as the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movie for 2007 and proved to be the highest rated television movie in the channel’s history. She often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. She and her husband make their home in Florida.

Here is the book trailer for this novel:

Lately, I have been reading books in which the characters are close to me in age (not deliberately; it’s just been working out that way). Such is the case with the three sisters in this book. By the time one reaches this age, one has been through a myriad of triumphs and trials. Such is the case with these ladies – Ginger, Rosemary, and Penny. Each chapter is seen from the point of view of one of the sisters. We get a insider’s perspective on each one, seeing how she ticks. It took me a little while to distinguish between the three of them. It was hard to believe that they had the same parents, so different were each of them! But God makes each of us in our own unique way. These characters prove to me – and should to anyone who reads this book – that God is the Great Designer of each of us.

Only one of the sisters professed faith in Christ, and it took a while for her to acknowledge her faith (actually, it was more a matter of church attendance than an actual relationship). This book, although published by Howard Books, the Christian imprint from Simon and Schuster, is not overtly Christian. However, each sister seems to be closer to her Lord at the end than she was a beginning. The reason for that is the lesson that they learned from reflecting on the life of their grandmother, Lillian.

Rosemary is the sister who is contemplating ending her life, under the incorrect assumption that those she left behind would be better off without her. I found her perspective to be interesting; I recall having a similar mindset several decades ago:

Still, if the dead can yearn for things they knew before, I will miss nature. I’ll miss birdsong, and the way soaring live oaks draw my gaze to the limitless arc of sky. I’ll miss my animals: the light in my dog’s eyes and the caress of a horse’s velvet muzzle against my palm. (p. 111)

One of the items they discovered when the sisters were clearing out their grandmother’s cottage was a tape recorder and some cassette tapes from their grandmother. I loved this prayer/piece of wisdom directed at her beloved granddaughters:

Overcome with a need to hear our grandmother’s voice, I pull the tape recorder closer. A cassette sits in the machine, so I plug the cord into the wall, then hold my breath and press play. I hear the hiss of static, a quiet chuckle, and then my grandmother’s crackling voice: “Dear Lord, how I pray for my girls. Be with young Rosie, Father, and keep her safe. Be with Penny, and let her feel your tender love. And Lord, bless my sweet Gingerbread. Teach her how to lean on you instead of trying to carry her on her own shoulders. Show her how to love. And help her be the guiding light that draws her family close.” (p. 296)

I love reading books that are set in a scenic location. Such is the case with this book - St. Simons Island in Georgia. Although the setting was ancillary to the storyline, it still sounded like a beautiful place to live/visit! 

I think this would be a great book to read with a girlfriend or two (or a group). There are insightful discussion questions in the back of the book. I loved Question # 6.:

6. At dinner on Sunday night, the granddaughters discuss what love is. How would you define it? Which of them comes closest to a good definition for love? Do you think any of these definitions have changed by the end of the novel? Whose?

In addition, there is an interesting question and answer session with Ms. Hunt.

I enjoyed reading this book! This book addresses some of the big issues in life: marriage, divorce, faith, love, relationships, etc…. I have to admit that each of the sisters drove me a little crazy at one point or another, but I was cheering for happiness and love in each one of their lives as I discovered more and more about them. I love the lessons of forgiveness and love that came through at the end of the book in each life. I know these are fictional characters, but I hope they all have lasting peace in their individual situations.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Howard Books and provided by Glass Road Public Relations for review purposes.


Tracy Krauss said...

I've been hearing a lot of good buzz about this book. I'll have to check it out!

Andrea Schultz said...

I think you'll like it, Tracy!


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