“I was six, he was eight. We met down my Miller’s Creek…”
Confessions from a Farmer’s Wife is a coming-of-age story set in the 1920-1940s, based on the biblical story of Job. The theme is the age-old question: why do bad things happen to good people?
From the beginning of the book, I was captured by the characters. Job Nightingale is different from any boy Jessie Bingham has ever met. He rules his life by integrity, even at the age of eight.
The first part of the story involves the childhood of Job and Jessie, and their cast of family and friends in Miller’s Creek and Grand River Junction. The author crafts a typical roller-coaster teen romance with great skill and power of emotion.
Then the troubles come. As they did to Job of the Bible. No warning, no explanation, no reasoning, no conceivable sense. Even those closest to Job begin to doubt his innocence in the face of his suffering. Will he be able to cling to his lonely faith when others have sincere reservations?
Author Caroline Way creates a compelling plot. The beginning is catchy, the tension riveting, the mood kept from becoming dismal by frequent touches of humor and exceptional word usage. Even for readers familiar with the biblical story of Job, the suspense is intense. The reader is drawn into the lives of Job and Jessie from the first page, led along by the author’s storytelling style.
I found the dialogue authentic, with clear speech patterns, no unnecessary speech tags and good beats to identify speakers. I also appreciated the deep point of view from Jessie, letting me into her head and heart, making me care about her and Job, often to the point of frustration / anger with her.
The setting is well-researched and described in detail, as well as era appropriate with nostalgic references to pre-WWII days. Even though the story is told in first person through Jessie and well-maintained throughout, we are able to learn about the other characters through Jessie’s narrative and the events of the story. The author tells the tale through a child’s point of view at the beginning, then adapts appropriately as the characters grow.
The author’s Christian worldview comes through clearly in this novel. The questions raised are universal, thus important to a broad spectrum of readers. Often as I read, I felt myself challenged to consider my understanding of and relationship with God. It is a courageous undertaking for a first-time fiction author to deal with these heavy issues, questions without answers. Caroline is to be commended for this.
I loved this book, have read it several times, and I will never forget my experience with Jessie and Job, or the things they learned on their journey to knowing God. An author must dig deeply into her own life and become vulnerable in order to share a meaningful story with readers, and I believe Ms Way has done this.
To learn more about author, Caroline Way, scroll back to my interview with her on August 12.