Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publication Date: 1993
Note: This is not Christian Fiction; there are elements of faith there are discussed throughout the novel, but I would NOT classify it in the Christian Fiction genre.
Certain Women explores the sensitive issue of death and, more specifically, the fear of dying with unresolved issues. In this novel (which I did not finish), Emma Wheaton disrupts her successful stage career to be with her dying father, David Wheaton. David is also an actor, having performed in a number of plays during his long career. However, he is obsessed with the one play he never got to do – an unfinished play about the Old Testament King David, written by Emma’s estranged husband, Nik.
As David Wheaton’s nine wives and eleven children gather to say their final goodbyes to David, the stories of both him and King David are simultaneously woven together and unraveled. Since Emma is the main female protagonist, the novel focuses on her upbringing and experiences being raised by the great actor that was David Wheaton. As she is surrounded by her extended and eclectic family, painful memories resurface that begin to allow her to confront her past and start the process of healing. As David Wheaton faces his approaching death, Emma grapples with her future.
Although the premise of this book highly intrigued me, the final product was less than desired. I found that there were too many characters to keep track of and it was difficult to follow the author’s shift from King David to David Wheaton. With that said, what little of this novel I read made me think about some serious issues that we all face. First, if you died today, is there anything left unresolved in your life that you would regret? I certainly have some stuff going on in my personal life that I need to resolve to feel at peace. Why should we continue another day letting those feelings eat us up inside? Life is so short here on earth. We can’t live it with any regret. David Wheaton’s biggest regret seemed to be his unfinished play. It is mentioned incessantly throughout this book. I also think he needs to know that he is leaving this earth at peace with all of his wives and children and there is no anger or bitterness among any of them.
The second issue that I considered while reading this novel is that of redemption. David Wheaton had NINE wives. Obviously, there was something wrong there. Now, I didn’t get through over half of this book, so I don’t know every detail that was going on in each of those relationships, but from what I understand, each of these women came back to see David at his deathbed, so obviously the relationships ended on somewhat good terms (even though he cheated, in at least one case that I know about). So, can anyone be redeemed, regardless of what he or she has done, as long as they atone for their sins? As a Christian, I know that God can redeem any situation. But, as a human who goes through difficulties and has had some very trying times in my life, I sometimes really struggle with this concept. If a person has wronged you in a devastating way, how can we truly just forgive and move on?
As I’ve mentioned, I only read about half of this book. The writing was very formal and not engaging. There were too many characters to keep track of and I just didn’t care too much about the storyline to keep reading it. I am not too familiar with the story of King David, so I thought this book would provide me with some great insight, but the way it was presented was very confusing to me. The novel just did not flow well and it was a huge disappointment.
Final Verdict: DNF
Join the conversation! Today all of the participants of the Faith ‘n Fiction Roundtable are posting their reviews/discussions of Certain Women. I’d love for you to think about the questions I’ve posed above and leave a comment with your thoughts. Then head on over to the blogs below and check out their thoughts on this book! Some LOVED it; others were mixed; and some disliked it! This one really has a wide spectrum of opinions!
Here are the other Roundtable bloggers:
Amy from My Friend Amy’s Blog
Nicole of Linus’s Blanket
Tina of Tinasbookreviews
Sheila of Bookjourney
Liz at Roving Reads
Carrie of Books and Movies
Florinda of 3rs Blog
Heather of Book Addiction
Hannah of Wordlily
Ronnica of Ignorant Historian
Julie of Book Hooked Blog
Sherry of Semicolon
Brooks of Victorious Cafe
Thomas of My Random Thoughts
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!