Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: A Thing of Beauty by Lisa Samson

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Former child star Fiona Hume deserted the movie biz a decade ago--right after she left rehab. She landed in Baltimore, bought a dilapidated old mansion downtown, and hatched dreams of restoring it into a masterpiece, complete with a studio for herself. She would disappear from public view and live an artist's life.

That was the plan.

Ten years later, Fiona's huge house is filled with junk purchased at thrift stores, haggled over at yard sales, or picked up from the side of the road. Each piece was destined for an art project . . . but all she's got so far is a piece of twine with some antique buttons threaded down its length.

She's thirty-two years old and still recognizable, but Fiona's money has finally run out. She's gotten pretty desperate, too, and in her desperation she's willing to do almost anything for money. Almost. So it is that she comes to rent out the maid's quarters to a local blacksmith named Josia Yeu.

Josia is everything Fiona isn't: gregarious, peaceful, in control without controlling . . . in short, happy. As the light from the maid's quarters begins to permeate the dank rooms of Fiona's world, something else begins to transform as well--something inside Fiona. Something even she can see is beautiful.

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
Coming from this author and publisher I was expecting this to be a Christian novel, so I was surprised to find it more secular in nature. While there's not really any objectionable scenes, it definitely has a more "worldly" feel and there is also some mild language through-out.

The story itself is fairly interesting, though I wouldn't call it upbeat. It gives a glimpse of the damage that Hollywood and fame can do to a person's emotional state--even years after leaving the business--and at the same time it serves as a great reminder that actors really are just normal people like every one else.

There is a very thin thread of romance in the story, but it's certainly not the main plot point and it's ultimately left slightly open ended... though it's kind of assumed that Fiona will end up with a certain guy. Strangely enough, this guy is completely the opposite of who I thought she would gravitate towards.

Overall, I have to admit that the story didn't give Fiona as much progress in her damaged life as I would've liked--and expected--to see. While she does make some life and attitude changes that result in her frame of mind and social skills improving, I was really hoping for a bit more. One of her difficult family relationships gets a sad "resolution" that I didn't care for, despite how difficult the person was to deal with. I think it all ultimately comes back to the fact that the story was more secular in nature, and I was hoping Fiona would find the solutions to her problems in God instead of just trying to not focus on the difficulties in her life. Alas...the only mention of God was the handful of times when His name was misused.

The story was a diversion from reality and held my attention fairly well, but I can't really say that I would recommend it. Maybe I'm missing the point of it....but regardless, it just wasn't what I expected and it was never able to convince me that the more secular angle was the best way to carry out the plot.

My Rating: 3 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Thomas Nelson) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

1 comment:

  1. This book has been getting attention via a critical review at The Christian Manifesto (which raised a lot of the same concerns as you have raised), then over at Mike Duran's blog.

    Personally, I thought it was excellent because of the way Samson was able to write such a broken character as Fiona, and see her come to some acceptance of her past after years of denial. That kind of thing isn't going to happen overnight.

    Yes, it could have been approached from a more Christian angle, as you suggest, and that would have made it more "Christian fiction". Would that have made it better? I don't know. It depends who their target reader is: current Christians, or people on the journey to Christ.