Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

Three middle-aged sisters spend a weekend at their deceased grandmother's home on St. Simon's Island to clear away years of memories, making it ready for the buyer.  Much more than a clean house results from this intense family time.
Ginger is the oldest sister, the responsible one, the choir director at church.  She was the one forced to take care of the others when their mother committed suicide shortly after the birth of the youngest.  She has everything under control - until she is confronted with the unexpected ruin of her marriage and the accusation that she does not really love her sisters.
Pennyroyal is the middle sister and a restless woman.  She has had five marriages and is contemplating yet another divorce.  She's met a man she thinks this time might really be "the one" she has been looking for. 
Rosemary is the youngest sister and is troubled.  She has experienced so much hurt.  Her sisters weren't there for her miscarriage, when she needed them.  She'll hide the hurt they caused.  Even though she loves her husband (her third) she is planning to end her life.  She has it all figured out when Ginger's request to help with the house delays her plans.  "I'm not out to make anyone suffer after I'm gone," she thinks.  "I've done enough of that already."  (33)  Though she is seven years younger than Ginger, she looks years older.
Each sister has her own memories from the fifteen summers they spent in their grandmother's house.  Each had a unique relationship with her.  Working in her home brings back the memories.
They are sisters by birth but they are not friends.  "Though we are bound by shared experiences, we are separated by beliefs, distance and years.  At times the gaps between us feel almost unbridgeable."  (136)
As the sisters work through each room, they work through their own lives, the hurt they've caused each other, the feelings with deep roots.  Hurt and anger bubble to the surface as the sisters learn how to be friends.
As one of three living sisters (my oldest has died), I found this novel very touching.  Each chapter is written in a different sister's voice.  As we live the weekend with the sisters we are able to experience the events from each one's perspective.  This writing technique adds to the reader's participation in the emotional trauma each sister is experiencing.
While the grandmother was a godly woman, the Christianity of the sisters is shallow, perhaps nonexistent.  Ginger appears to be the only church attender.  Hunt portrays the sisters working through their issues without relying on God.  The sisters do not have a spiritually reviving experience while they work through their issues.  So the ending is not a "tidy" Christian ending.  While the emotional future of each sister is well developed, their spiritual future is not.
A reading group guide is included.

Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of over 100 books.  She and her husband make their home in Florida.  You can read more about her at: www.AngelaHuntBooks.com.

I received a copy of this book from Glass Road Public Relations on behalf of the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Howard Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster, 302 pages.
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