This is quite possibly one of the odder books I have reviewed this year. Right off the bat, in the
first chapter I am caught off guard. The central character in the book is Agnes Sparrow (as the title indicates) and we meet her immediately through the eyes of her sister, Griselda, the narrator. We see how she is the primary caregiver for Agnes who is 700 lbs and can't get around on her own. In the opening pages Agnes declares to Griselda that she will no longer leave their house, its just too hard. It was touching to see the dedication Griselda has for her sister, she was young when she decided that she would make Agnes her priority in life because she was so tired of people making fun of her and she wanted to be there for her.
The whole town reveres Agnes because she spends all day everyday in front of her living room window with her notebook praying for the people of the town. Miracles have happened and people attribute it to Agnes. Of course she hates that attention and tries to relay that it is God answering the prayers, not anything she is doing. Much of the beginning of the book is commotion over the townspeople wanting to erect a sign on the interstate that proclaims, "Brights Pond - Home of Agnes Sparrow". They also want a statue in the middle of town. She wants none of it and it is up to Griselda to stop it from happening.
The town characters are so well done - what a kooky cast to support Griselda and Agnes! Cora, Zeb and Vidalia are their closest friends while Eugene is a royal pain in the butt and Stu and Boris are Agnes' biggest fans and are the ones trying to get the sign up and the statue erected. Hezekiah comes into the picture after he hears about Agnes' miracle working powers in another town and he comes to find Agnes and get his miracle.
Hezekiah stumbles onto one of Agnes' secrets all while hiding some secrets of his own. This is where the book got off track for me. It's like all of a sudden it goes from being a cozy little character book to trying to be all things to all people... mystery, murder, suspense... and it lost its charm.
The funny thing is that when the book ended I was crying for the characters because they really did click with me... it was just that the story itself never seemed to find its niche. I know from experience though that many people will probably love this book, it just wasn't up my alley.
Since I have learned from experience that this book will be a blessing to someone else, I am giving my copy away. My favorite part of this book was the characters that live in Brights Pond, so leave me a comment telling me what one of your favorite characters in a book was (especially the quirky sidekick or secondary characters) along with your email and I will enter you in the drawing. And look for lots of winners this weekend as I start drawing for the giveaways I have going on right now! Good luck!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joyce Magnin is the author of short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children.
Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups.
She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet who can’t seem to keep a name. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.
The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is her first published novel.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is the story of an unusual woman, Agnes Sparrow. No longer able or willing to leave her home, where she is cared for by her long-suffering sister Griselda, Agnes has committed her life to the one thing she can do-besides eat. Agnes Sparrow prays and when Agnes prays things happen, including major miracles of the cancer, ulcer-healing variety along with various minor miracles not the least of which is the recovery of lost objects and a prize-winning pumpkin.
The rural residents of Bright's Pond are so enamored with Agnes they plan to have a sign erected on the interstate that reads, "Welcome to Bright's Pond, Home of Agnes Sparrow." This is something Agnes doesn't want and sends Griselda to fight city hall.
Griselda's petitions are shot down and the sign plans press forward until a stranger comes to town looking for his miracle from Agnes. The truth of Agnes's odd motivation comes out when the town reels after a shocking event. How could Agnes allow such evil in their midst? Didn't she know?
Well, the prayers of Agnes Sparrow have more to do with Agnes than God. Agnes has been praying to atone for a sin committed when she was a child. After some tense days, the townsfolk, Griselda, and Agnes decide they all need to find their way back to the true source of the miracles-God.
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, go HERE