It’s very well written, the characters are totally real and the plot twists are well paced, the story flows really well – my only problem is that I can’t, as we’re obviously expected to, rejoice in the supposedly happy ending. (Spoilers ahead, obviously – look away now if you don’t want to know what happens!)
Last warning: here be spoilers.
So here’s the thing: one of the main characters in this novel is a Mennonite minister, a married man who somehow manages to square adultery and divorce with his faith. His concept of right and wrong leaves me, as a Christian, weeping for him and wondering if he was ever really born again.
He seems to have a vague, fuzzy kind of faith, taking comfort in prayer but not knowing Jesus personally and not turning to Scripture for guidance as to right and wrong behaviour.
He does recognise that adultery is wrong – to a certain extent… Jesus said even looking at a woman with lust is adultery, and yet this guy seems to think it’s ok to kiss a woman passionately, to tell her how much he wants to make love to her, to spend lots of time alone with her, holding hands and hugging – all of that is, he thinks, ok and he’s adamant they’ve done nothing wrong. And then, when he finds out that his wife has been unfaithful, he feels free to do what he’d been wanting to do all along – still feeling he hasn’t done anything wrong.
Dear fictional Michael, here’s a news flash for you: the Bible doesn’t add caveats to “thou shalt not commit adultery”, it doesn’t say it’s ok if your spouse did it first.
But then his wife begs him to forgive her and to give their marriage another chance, and for a while it seems that Michael is going to do the right thing. So I breathe a sigh of relief and carry on reading, and then…
Michael finds a way of telling himself that the right thing is wrong and the wrong thing is right…
The way he rationalised it left me reeling with shock. It seems that he saw divorce as only wrong in the eyes of his church, not wrong in the eyes of God – and he decided that staying in a marriage that hasn’t been working would be wrong because it would be dishonest.
Dear fictional Michael, what about staying and – gasp – being honest about the state of your marriage? Radical idea, I know, but Jesus calls us to a radical life!
But, like I said, I’m not sure he knew Jesus at all. And trying to fight temptation in your own strength, without being reborn through the Spirit – that just so doesn’t work.
Anyway, that’s the long story about why I didn’t like the ending. A man divorcing his wife and marrying the woman he’d had an adulterous relationship with – and with not an ounce of repentance? That is not my idea of a happy ending!