Monday, 25 September 2006

Ten Thousand Charms by Allison Pittman

4 stars

Allison Pittman's debut novel TEN THOUSAND CHARMS tells an old tale but she infuses it with joy, hope and the power of God's forgiveness.
Penniless and awaiting the birth of her first child, Gloria seeks refuge with an old friend, Jewell, the proprietor of a fancy house in Wyoming Territory. Jewell takes pity on Gloria and allows her to stay in a small cottage, where she brings a son into the world, and befriends Jewell's girls and hears their own stories of heartache.
Nearby, John William McGregan mourns the loss of his devout wife and despairs about how to care for his baby daughter. Despite his revulsion at Gloria's prior lifestyle, John William asks her to nurse his daughter and in return, he agrees to be a father to her son, knowing Gloria's intention to leave both babies with him once they are weaned. Together the four travel to the Oregon Territory and give the appearance of being a family. Gloria is puzzled by John William's faith and confused by an attraction for which she feels unworthy. There they meet Maureen, a widow, who offers them a home in return for companionship and farm work, all the while expressing the love and forgiveness of God. When John William's life is again shattered by tragedy, Gloria's fledging faith is damaged in the face of his anger at God. This story is beautifully crafted and the characters are portrayed in a sensitive and realistic way.
Allison Pittman acknowledges the heartaches and tragedies in life which leave us bruised and broken; yet she also shows that God's forgiveness encompasses all our bad choices and offers the chance of new life.


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