Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

The Fine Art of Insincerity: A Novel  Three adult sisters convene on St. Simons Island to clean out their grandmother's beach house, a place where they'd spent numerous childhood summers.  Ginger, Pennyroyal, and Rose arrive prepared to tackle the work involved and even prepared to face their mixed memories of their grandmother.  Was she as childish as Ginger remembers?  Were her numerous marriages proof that she was always seeking a perfect love, a pattern that it seems Penny will repeat as she prepares to leave her husband for a more perfect model?  Or was she a wise woman who gave much to nuture her lonely granddaughters?

While similar stories have been told of inheritances and returns to childhood digs that lead to uncovering of secrets about past family, Angela Hunt tells a much different story (or really three stories).  Each sister comes with secrets they keep hidden from each other.  This all girls' weekend is really a charade of insincere pleasantries until one by one, the sisters' true lives  surface and are faced.  Oldest sister Ginger has always acted as the dutiful, organized perfectionist, but she will need to confront a crumbling marriage and her own emotional walls.  Obsessed by her approaching middle age, Penny initiates a plan for a weekend of  renewed excitement, but at what costs?  Rose arrives with her aged, beloved dog and with a plan that she feels will forever stop the emptiness she feels.  Can she pretend that all is normal until she has the opporutunity to act?

Despite, Ginger's job as the children's music director at her church, you will not see these women as people who have begun to struggle with their faith. In fact, faith seems entirely absent, but as the story builds to a climatic drive across a dangerous bridge, the power of forgiveness and sincere love brings Christ's gospel to life.
Fellow author Liz Curtis Higgs calls this story a "relationship novel that's a page turner," and I would agree.  Hunt does such a good job with the three alternating narrators and their unique stories that I found myself not liking any of the sisters, yet I was overjoyed as they changed throughout the novel.
There are some great questions in the reader's guide at the end of the book.  Here's one that will keep me thinking for the rest of the day.
        " If you could keep writing and plot out the likely future of Ginger, Rose, and Penny, what would these future scenes look like.  Will all three relationships succeed?"

Much relationship fiction is a look behind the curtain, a look at reality versus appearance.  Angela Hunt has successfully added another story with the curtain pulled back.

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