When I went to the ACFW Conference this past September, I took one the best and most helpful writing classes ever. It was taught by an editor and an author that frankly I’d never heard of. But when she finished the class, I went to the conference bookstore and bought her new book without even reading the back cover copy.
And let me tell you— this book did not disappoint me as a reader or as a writer.
The Baker’s Wife by Erin Healy is contemporary fiction, with elements of suspense and of the supernatural. It is a story of redemption on several levels, of sharing one another’s pain, of trusting God to guard your reputation and to reveal truth.
As a reader, there were so many levels of this story that I connected with, not the least of which was that it caused me to think more deeply about how the Holy Spirit speaks in our lives and what it means to enter into the pain of another person. I loved the pastor-turned-baker who didn’t defend himself against the lies responsible for his dismissal from the congregation. He was such a Christ-figure in this book. I loved his wife Audrey, who by a gift of the Holy Spirit felt the pain of those she was called to minister to. Literally felt their pain. I loved how human she was— frail in some moments, strong in others, but with a great desire to act as the Lord wanted her to act, in spite of herself. Then there was the son, who wondered after he’d fallen into sin if the Lord had any use for him anymore, and the woman who’d tried to do right but in the end had been punished and wondered if restoration was only a pipe dream. Not to mention the antagonist, a character determined to put God in a box and who inspired in me the same pity as I feel for Javert in Les Miserables.
As a writer who had listened to Erin teach about knowing when and how and why to push certain styles of writing beyond the norm for a story, I was fascinated with the use of a more omniscient point of view. It worked. And while I haven’t asked Erin personally why she made this choice for the story, I appreciated it as a reader because of the intense emotions within the story. I’m not sure as a reader I could have handled it in a deep POV. And to understand the supernatural element (Audrey’s “gift” feeling the pain of others), a little bit of distance from her deep POV was necessary, in my opinion.
All this to say, I highly recommend this book. Besides being a good story (there are twists and turns I never saw coming!), this book will challenge you to think more deeply about your own faith and your interaction with a hurting world. At least that’s what it did for me.