Jennifer AlLee's newest page turner, The Pastor's Wife, released in February 2010. I had the privilege of receiving an advanced ebook copy courtesy of Jen to read and review.
Here's a bit about the book from Jen's website:
Maura Sullivan thought she knew what she was getting into when she married soon-to-be pastor Nick Shepherd. But when “the other woman” in her marriage turned out to be her husband's congregation, she ran. Six years later, she’s back in the small community of Granger, Ohio, for the reading of a will that names both her and Nick as beneficiaries. Now Maura must face the husband – and the congregation – she left behind.
Loved, loved, loved this book...and I'll tell you why. Jen shows how important communication really is. (And the biggest reasons why people get divorced really are sex, money, and communication.)
Married people can look at the same event so differently, and this book points that out beautifully. As a therapist who deals with couples who are contemplating separation or divorce, I could see how Jen's book could be such a ray of hope for them, especially if they know the Lord. God calls out to people, if they keep their hearts open to listening to him. Even insurmountable obstacles, from heavy inner secrets to heavy outward responsibilities, can be overcome.
One of my favorite passages Jen wrote from Maura's point of view. Maura's recalling how her husband had been a recipient of the "laying on of hands" that some churches do as a visible sign of approval and acceptance to a new minister. (My church does this when a new minister is ordained.) In the lives of most people, ordination is such a blessing, seen as a positive career step and even viewed by some as a watershed moment. But for Maura...so not the case. Instead of seeing the hands as bestowing blessing, she saw them as reaching out and pulling him away from her. Wouldn't Nick have been surprised to know that?
Which leads to my conclusion. Communication is key for couples at all stages in their marriage. Keeping secrets, harboring grudges, and letting things "slide" unattended doesn't do anyone any favors. In fact, it only instills bitterness in the secret-keeper and grudge-holder. Jennifer shows how healing true, unadulterated communication can be.
Marriage is tough. Being married and being in the ministry can be even tougher. I'd recommend this book to all couples, but especially those in the ministry who have to face additional challenges unique to them. Pastors, while put on pedestals by congregation members, face the same troubles everyone does. Thanks for shedding light on these situations, Jen.
If you know a couple in the ministry who might be facing similar struggles, get them this book as a favor to them to show how much you care. You can find it at Amazon, Christianbook.com, and Cokesbury.
You can also find Jen at her website, personal blog, group blog, twitter, and facebook.