Tag Archives: Rome

Woman of God by James Patterson with Maxine Paetro

IN 2002 I bought my first ever brand new car. During that initial year of ownership, I was stopped at a red light on Sheridan and was rear-ended – twice. Over the life span of that car it was in so many accidents I was on a first name basis with the owner of the collision shop. Even though the majority of these incidents were not my fault, my insurance went up because I (or perhaps that particular car) was considered “jinxed”.

In James Patterson’s novel, Woman of God, the main character, Brigid Fitzgerald, is jinxed. Not only does she find herself in difficult situations, but those around her are also endangered with many unable to survive the ordeal. Brigid herself is not left unscathed, experiencing a multitude of near death experiences.

How does this girl, an on again, off again Catholic, end up being considered for the role as the “first” female pope?

It starts with a stint in South Sudan as a member of the staff for Helping Hands (a sort of Doctors Without Borders). Brigid, a young doctor just out of medical school, is thrilled to be at this remote location – think “MASH on Steroids” – right in the middle of the action. When the protective forces move on, the unit is left to the mercies of an adversary who refuses to distinguish between neutral volunteers or the enemy in their quest for genocide. Instead of evacuating, Brigid tries to save one more victim, becoming a target herself. When her vitals indicate death she has an out-of-body experience resulting in an ethereal connection to God after the medics on the rescue chopper bring her back to life. Despite this divine linkage, her continued exposures to traumatic events make her question the existence of a deity, yet God relentlessly reaches out, wordlessly urging her forward. Brigid’s bad luck isn’t helped by her insistence on placing herself in dangerous situations, tempting fate. Even when trying to eke out a somewhat normal life, trouble follows her and those she loves.

After various encounters with the assorted men who are drawn into her circle, she eventually settles down and marries a Priest. Becoming disenfranchised with the Roman Catholic Church, he starts the JMJ (Jesus Mary Joseph) Movement for forward thinking Catholics and other believers. Within a few years, the movement leads to a chain of churches across the United States and into Europe. Brigid is ordained a Priest and her popularity draws huge crowds plus all manner of enemies who disdain what they consider her blasphemy. After her five year old daughter nonchalantly mentions that her mother talks to God to one of the stalking media, Brigid suddenly finds herself on Sixty Minutes admitting her connection with The Lord to the world. This leads to an audience with the Pope and the speculation that she is next in line for the papacy.

What goes around comes around. While my Saturn celebrated its last day of service by spewing its subframe onto the road at the very same intersection as its first accident, Brigid finds herself at a crossroads, not knowing what comes next, but leaning towards the same activities which brought her a sense of fulfillment when she was in her early twenties, back in South Sudan. Whether she survives her further anticipated adventures is up to the reader to decide.

A great book for the light reader who wants some quick entertainment. Cowritten by Maxine Paetro, this is one of a myriad of publications by the Patterson machine, whose popularity endures no matter how many books a year he cranks out.

However, if you want something more from your reading material, keep searching. Trying to create an anology between Brigid and Job, the authors throw one catastrophe after another into her path. While there is a lot of action, everything is superficial, and all too often the reader has to suspend all sense of reality. The writing lacks depth, the characters are one dimensional, the plot moves too quickly and at times is confusing or even senseless due to a lack of detail. I won’t even mention the two to three page snippets called chapters. I personally feel this is an outline for a movie, with its faced paced “drama and trauma”. Brigid travels throughout the world with stops in the Sudan, Italy, Germany, and the United States, flitting from one locale to another meeting a myriad of characters who may or may not be significant in her life. I certainly hope Carrot finds her way home, but we never do discover what happens to the majority of Brigid’s chance encounters unless they die while driving her somewhere. Not my cup of tea, but obviously beloved by others. A generous three stars.

This review also appears on Goodreads.

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Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures by Lillian Marek

Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures by Lillian Marek, a Victorian Era Romance taking place in the 1850s, has plenty of action. Perhaps a little too much, but the plot, for the most part, moves along at a fast clip.

Lady Elinor Tremaine is a sweet, but frisky young lady who scorns the restrictions placed on women while being forced to constrain her actions (up to a point) to the parameters allowed by society due to her father’s diplomatic position. Is her behavior wicked or does her curiosity and love of travel lead her into situations where evil might occur?

Luckily, she has her brother, Pip or Philip Tremaine, Viscount Rycote, and his childhood friend, Harry or Harcourt de Vaux, Viscount Tunbury, to look after her, although she is perfectly capable of defending herself. When her mother, Lady Tremaine, decides her father, the Marquess of Penworth, needs to relax and spend some time away from English politics, Elinor finds herself along for the ride with her brother and Harry, who is drafted to facilitate the travel arrangements. The author Marek takes the time in her narrative to describe the sites the characters visit in their trip across the English Channel through France and into Rome. In addition, the political struggle of the battle to unify Italy is highlighted as a central theme when the Tremaines unintentionally become embroiled in the troubles of their Italian host family. Add an architectural dig of Etruscan artifacts, a thief willing to kill, and some romance to achieve the full impact of this novel.

Whereas some novels have too simplistic a plot, this story almost overdoes the action. Perhaps a little editing or combining events would solidify this novel. However, Marek is a master of character development as each player is brought to life. Lord Tremaine remains ever the diplomat with a capable wife who can easily manipulate any situation to her satisfaction. Nobody messes with Lady Tremaine. Their son, Pip, although romantically handsome, is something of a prig due to his insecurities. Pip would rather stay on his estate and be a simple landowner, yet he finds himself in the midst of intrigue. Elinor is as capable as her mother, yet she hasn’t found the right man to marry. Anyone she chooses to wed must show the proper respect of her abilities and refrain from treating her like a dimwitted ninny. Harry, has been in love with Elinor for years, but feels himself unworthy due to his parents’ scandalous behaviors. He believes Elinor deserves someone better. Yet, when Elinor realizes they have an electric connection which can only be love, she decides to find a way to convince Harry to reveal his true feelings. All this in the midst of their adventures. When the two finally culminate their relationship, the sex scenes are sensitive and not too graphic, leaving something to the imagination. Additional characters are equally well defined.

Although the book dragged in a few places, despite all the activity, I enjoyed reading this novel. I hope Marek decides to write additional stories with these same characters, especially involving the debut of Harry’s two younger sisters and their subsequent adventures.

I give this book three and a half stars.

Thank you to Sourcebook (Casablanca) for allowing me to download this title for free in exchange for an honest review.