Archives For Lisa Samson

 

545442: Resurrection in May

A Review of

Resurrection in May: A Novel

By Lisa Samson
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Jeni Newswanger-Smith.

Lisa Samson belongs to the newer (but welcome!) generation of Christian authors who write honestly and believably about people’s struggles with faith in the real world. Samson often deals with big topics—alcoholism, psychosis, murders—and Resurrection in May is no different.  In fact, Samson deals with so many big issues (e.g., genocide, drug addiction, PTSD, the death penalty), that the book is almost overwhelming.  May,  a recent college graduate, who is partying away her young life, meets Claudius, an old farmer who has never lived away from his birth home, when he picks her up, drunk and abandoned, from the side of the road.  Claudius is able to see through May’s recent bad choices to who she really is—a bright, talented, but pampered child who makes very bad choices when it comes to romance.  They strike up an unlikely friendship—May moves into Claudius’s home while she waits to go on a mission trip Rwanda; there she plans to work in a small village, while also exercising her journalistic skills.  But May’s trip to Rwanda overlaps with the atrocious genocides of the 1990s, and May witnesses and experiences rage and hatred she can not find words to express.  After barely living through the genocide, May returns home scarred literally and figuratively. Unable to deal with anyone of her former acquaintance, she moves back into Claudius’s home.  There she stays for years, her world quickly becoming just the farm and those people who visit it.  After dealing for years with pathological fear, May is encouraged to reach beyond the farm by writing to a former friend who is awaiting execution on death row.  As the friendship grows through letters, both May and her friend wrestle with the issues of forgiveness and redemption.

Samson’s books are always enjoyable as well as challenging.  Resurrection in May is no exception, however, because of the over-crowding of big issues and the rather sudden shifts in time and perspective, it doesn’t stand up to her best work.  While Samson deals realistically with disappointed dreams and mental illness, Resurrection in May is brimming so full with interesting characters and potential sub-plots, one wonders why no one suggested making it into a series.

 

“My Heart is Full of Love
Even Though Nothing Went As Planned”

 

A Review of
The Passion of Mary-Margaret
by Lisa Samson

 

Reviewed by Brittany Sanders

The Passion of Mary-Margaret (A Novel)
Lisa Samson
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $12 ]  [ Amazon ]

 

 

In 2009, amidst a culture dependent on text messages, iPhones and a faster pace of life than ever before, few would consider the lifestyle of a Catholic nun to be more exciting than their own. But in her newest novel, The Passion of Mary-Margaret, Lisa Samson manages to portray a heroine and a story that even the most modern-minded readers will find intriguing and compelling.
From the start, several elements set Samson’s novel apart from (and above) the average piece of Christian fiction. First, there is the non-traditional story structure. Based on the premise of recently discovered memoirs written by the now-deceased religious sister Mary-Margaret, the chapters follow multiple chronologies at once, tracing Mary-Margaret’s life during the time of the writings (at age seventy) while relating the story of her younger years in carefully chosen episodes. This fresh approach provides the double advantage of keeping the reader on his or her toes and avoiding the overused “flashback” technique, which can easily slip from conventional to clichéd. In this way, the plot unfolds not forward, nor backward, but inward, by increasing degrees of clarity. The destination is no secret; it’s the journey that becomes mysterious as readers wonder not “what will happen in the end?” but “how will the end happen?”

Mary-Margaret reveals early on that she has a son, John, but there is no explanation given as to how this religious sister came by her offspring. Left to assume that she will marry, but not yet getting to that point in the story, the reader hangs in an unusual tension—and a unique opportunity for the author to fill in the gaps. Since the heart of the story is the fluctuating romance between Mary-Margaret and her childhood friend, Jude, it is not difficult to guess who John’s father is. But by unfolding the circumstances piece-by-piece while shifting between present and past, Mary-Margaret and Jude’s relationship feels deeper and more meaningful at every turn. To bring them together, the hand of Providence must overcome deeper wounds and darker secrets than anyone would expect. The result is not a surprise ending but a conclusion all the more satisfying for its inevitability. Loose ends are tied up out of impossibly tangled lives, and an elegant and unexpected symmetry appears. This conclusion gives The Passion of Mary-Margaret an old-fashioned, almost classical sense of unity. Continue Reading…

 

We’re again going to split the podcast into two segments.  The first segment will be a news alamanac and the second will feature an excerpt from the audio archives of Doulos Christou Books.

Overview of Segment #1 – News Almanac

  • 15th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide
  • Holy week
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem: “Easter Communion”
  • New Books to Watch for
  • Upcoming Events

[display_podcast]

Other books mentioned:

  • Catherine Larson: As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda
  • Can Poetry Save the Earth?  A Field Guide to Nature Poems
  • Will Samson: Enough: Contentment in An Age of Excess
  • Lisa Samson: The Passion of Mary Margaret (A Novel)
  • Walter Brueggemann: Divine Presence Amid Violence