Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson

by Gina Welborn

When Dina insists "Trust me, Gina, you're going to love this book," I generally think she's nuts (shhh, she is). She's all into literary stuff. You know, those kind of books where the author writers a story for the purpose of trying to make the reader think.

Well, I don't want to think when I read a book.

I'm shallow.

I like being superficial.

So this past spring while I was sharing dinner with Dina, her hubby, and maybe a kid or two, Dina did another one of her "insistings." Not only was she convinced I'd like her book picks for me, she made a point to give me copies (let's be honest, she shoved them in my hands with a "you will read these").

Click here!
~Books Dina Insisted Gina Read Because Dina Knows Gina Better than Gina Will Admit~

Sailing Between the Stars by Steven James
The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson

Didn't take me long to start reading Sailing. Fabulous book. I really ought to review it. Although I raved about it a bit on Facebook and gave the book to my oldest son to read it.

Mary-Margaret, though, had rested in a basket beside my bed, patiently waiting for me to read her. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

See, the problem I had wasn't that the book isn't a romance. It's a different kind of love story. It's women's fiction with romantic elements. First person Point of View. A narrative. Yet nothing really like a Nicholas Sparks novel designed for the sole purpose of sappy sentimentality.

My problem was why would I want to read about a nun? Well, not a nun. A religious sister. I'd explain the difference, but, really, it doesn't matter. Suffice to say, I went to a car show with hubby. We had to be there early so I figured I ought to bring a book to read. Alas, my TBR pile of paper books consisted of one book: The Passion of Mary-Margaret.

I began reading while waiting for the car show to begin. Lol and behold, the show was cancelled due to rain so I came home and read with intention of making myself sleepy so I could take a nap.

Only I couldn't stop reading.

What Lisa did so well was craft a story that sounds like a real person had written in a journal. Lemme, pause and share a minor criticism. The heroine was born around 1940ish and covers the 70+ years of her life. Past and present are intertwined. The novel has numerous chapters yet they aren't numbered. Kinda cool. Bad thing was at times when the narration moved to the past, I wasn't sure the year. Much occured when the heroine was in her late twenties, which would be late 1960s/early1970s. Only those past "scenes" didn't have much of a historical feel, other than the mentions of racial prejudices. Maybe, for me, that issue could have been solved if dates were given at the beginning of each journal entry.

Some Christian romance readers are going to accuse me of herasy for saying this, but I think The Passion of Mary-Margaret does a much better job of conveying submission to Christ and selfless love in realistic characters than Francine Rivers's Redeeming Love, which I think is over-rated. Oh, it's a good book, just shouldn't be acclaimed as the perfect Christian romance. Whereas . . .

The Passion of Mary-Margaret centers around a woman who yearns to (and strives to) be a living vessel for Jesus to love others. And love demonstrated isn't merely that of a woman for a man.

Seems like Believers are quick to say they'd do whatever Jesus asked them to do. "Here am I, Lord, send me!" Really? How much are you willing to sacrifice for doing what Jesus asks you to do? Even against man's wisdom? Even against the wisdom of religious leaders? Would you be a Good Samaritan if doing so would cost you . . .

Your job?
Your reputation?
Your friends?
Your home?
Your retirement?
Your hopes and dreams?

Mary-Margaret's sole passion was to love Jesus, to devote her live solely to serving and worshipping Him. Then Jesus did the wild and crazy and against-man's-wisdom thing and told her to marry a man with syphilis. A prostitute. A drug user. Someone who has absolutely no interest in God or faith or salvation.

Why did she do it? Because the love of God lived in her heart and she couldn't not express it.

"Compassion is identification with Jesus in His love for lost people, perfectly willing to do what He did, if necessary. To die for lost men." ~A.W. Tozer


  1. Lovely quote at the end, Gina, and the questions you asked ... those are tough, and very thought-provoking.

    I remember Dina talking about this book, but I didn't remember the particulars. Just that she loved it. Your review is great, and the book sounds wonderful. I just have one question: I know you said it's told in first person, but is it first person present tense? I don't mean to offend anyone, but I do have a difficult time with books told in that tense. Either way, based on your great review and Dina's recommendation, I will check into this book.

    1. Not sure what's going on with blogger today. A little weird. Suzie, I think sometimes she uses present briefly since it's a journal, but most is in past. My opinion on that is that it's just hard to do present tense well. But in the rare case someone does it well, it's awesome. Whatever Lisa did, she did it well.

    2. Yes, Suzie, sometimes present tense, sometimes past. I, too, dislike present tense . . . or at least I thought I did.

      Present tense written well is fabulous.

      Such as in The Hunger Games.

  2. Gina, so glad you enjoyed my book picks for you. They are all based on one thing, the fact that you hunger for true authentic relationship with Christ.

    1. Reminds me of a Tozer quote about a couple paradoxes of the Christian faith.

      "To be happily forgiven, and yet be wounded with perpetual contrition. Finding God yet pursuing God, of having Him, yet always wanting Him."

      On a side note, I started the book on prayer. Didn't connect with it so I figured it's not the right season in my life for me to read it. Will try again this spring.

  3. Again, I HAVE this book. Need to read it. It sounds great.

    Time, time, time . . .

  4. Oh, DeAnna, I have several books I need to read.

    Time, time, time....

  5. I remember this book coming up in conversation, but I'm glad for the additional info! I'll put it on my TBR pile...So many books, so little time.

  6. For anyone who doesn't have time for this book, make it your devotional reading f.or a while. It's that powerful

  7. Present tense, spanning 70 years of someone's life. . . Two absolute no-no-no, I won't reads for me. After about 20 pages, even the best written pt drives me insane. Sounds like a wonderful book. Do you think the author would give me a version written in past tense?

    Or did you mean first person? I love first person, something I see too little of and find refreshing about Dandelion.

    Just a bit confused on this. Present tense first person? First--no. Latter--wonderful.

    As for doing something at the Lord's command, I married a man shockingly my junior because the Lord told me to in a still quiet voice, and then confirmed it more loudly when I said, eh, what was that? Are you nuts?

    I'm not being irreverent in recounting this; that's a quote.

  8. Laurie, I have read present tense novels--scratch that, started reading some and stopped because the present tense was distracting. One contemp inspy women's fiction with romantic elements comes to mind. So I was hesitant to read The Passion of Mary-Margaret. By the second or third page I forgot present tense because the story reads like someone's journal.

    That's why the flipping between past and present works. The story is also in first person narrative.

    I had adhered to an absolute no-no-no on present tense, 70 years of someone's life books, then I would have missed out on a blessing. Mary-Margaret is one of the few (if only) novels that resonates with me long after I finished reading.

    Hmm. This conversation makes me wonder: How many blessings do I miss out on because I say "nope, not for me"? I think I'd like to be more of a risk=taker.

  9. I've heard of this book. Briefly mentioned around the internet, but never realy knew what it was about. Now after reading this review...I've put it on hold at my local library. It sounds like a fantastic novel! Thanks for pointing me to a great-sounding read :)


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