Monday, September 28, 2009

"The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow" Book Review and Giveaway!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow

Abingdon Press (September 2009)


Joyce Magnin

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!

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.


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


Anonymous said...

I think Chewbacca is a very quirky sidekick to Han Solo in the Star Wars novels ... and in the movies, too.

Debbie F said...

This book sounds great!
One of my favorite characters in a book is Peabody in the In Death series by JD Robb

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Kim said...

I actually didn't think I would sign up for any giveaways, but I have to admit this one caught my interest. I have come to enjoy books that reveal more faith in them, not so much fluff.

Even if I do not win, I may still get this one.
Thank you,

Linda said...

I would have to say the young male college student in Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers who thinks he has all the answers for where older people should live, but gets a first-hand look at reality. A very touching and wonderfully written book.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Abi said...

One of my fav. is Candace Thompson in Debbie Viguie's Sweet Seasons Novel series.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Sandee61 said...

I would love to be added to your giveaway...this looks like a good read and I enjoyed the review!
Thank you.


Carole said...

One of my favorite "quirky" characters is AJ in Renee Riva's "Saving Sailor." This is also my favorite book of 2009 so far.

I am very interested in reading The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow and appreciate the chance to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Winning Readings said...

I love those "quiet" spouses that support the main character in the background of the book, like the husband in The Great Christmas Bowl.

And we've posted about this at Winning Readings:

Mark said...

I would say my favorite character in a book, is Ashley Baxter in Karen Kingsbury's books - I identified with her a lot

Doreen said...

Thanks for the chance to win! I enjoyed the review! purposedrivenlife4you at gmail dot com

Aik said...

I'd say it's Ramesses in The Heretic Queen. He loved his wife so much that he entered the birthing pavillion to see her condition although it was wrong according to the tradition.

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Carol said...

This book had already sparked my interest after reading another review. I would be thrilled to win it, but if not I will still find a way to read it. Thanks!


LoveMy2Dogs said...

I have never really thought of a favorite character in a book before but I will have to go with all the women in the book How to Stay Single. That is such an awesome book.

This book sounds like it would also be an interesting read.


Charity L. said...

My favorite character in a book was Anne of Green Gables. Loved that book:)

Deb K said...

Please enter me~I would love to read this book~sounds very good!


Nora said...

This sounds interesting. I'd like to read this book. Plese put my name in the hat.


Finding Hope Through Fiction

Cheryl said...

I would love to win a copy of this book. Please enter me in this contest. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

Janna said...

And the winner is...