Finding mainstream novels with a spiritual component is rare. I know, there are thousands of books from Christian publishers, but, personally I often find them restrictive. They stay too safely in “the box” for my taste. Here are two novels from authors I’ve followed through the years who don’t stay in “the box.” Back in the day when I was on Internet radio, I enjoyed interviewing them.
Barbara O’Neal is a prolific award winning author (aka “Barbara Samuel” and “Ruth Wind”). Rising through the ranks of romance writing into women’s fiction, she creates complex characters that tug at your heart and also make you think. The Garden of Happy Endings features a unitarian female pastor, Reverend Elsa Montgomery, caught in the grips of personal and spiritual crisis. After many years as a successful minister in Seattle, a tragedy in the congregation unmoors her so much, the church leadership insists she take a sabbatical. The bulk of the story takes place in her hometown of Pueblo, Colorado. There she must deal with the man she gave to God, plus her sister is also in the midst of crisis. Healing for all is centered on the community garden, where Elsa pours her ministerial energies. As always, I enjoyed O’Neal’s unfolding story and relationships, but really relished inclusion of ministerial people working for God, but confronted with all-too-human emotions. As a bonus, there are even some mystical moments to satisfy supernal appetites. And as the title implies, there’s a happy ending.
And for your further spiritual reading enjoyment, take a trip to Pie Town with author, Lynne Hinton. My radio interview with Hinton especially sticks in my mind because at the time she was pastoring a church in a small rural community. We discussed her personal journey from North Carolina, to a Masters in Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California to ministering in the Southwest. Pie Town takes place in New Mexico, a place of lost hopes and dreams, looking for inspiration. A new, fresh-out-of seminary priest is assigned to the small Catholic Church, and soon realizes he is unprepared for the cultural mixture of Hispanics, Anglos, and Native Americans all struggling to make a living. And when he brings a pregnant hitch-hiker into town, he unwittingly creates more drama. Hinton’s personal experience dealing with all the personalities that make up a congregation shines through the piece. Pie Town offers an entertaining slice of life with spiritual underpinnings.
Both of these authors spin compelling tales that entertain and lift your spirits. Check out all their work:
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