Friday, March 12, 2010

Review: Marriage and Other Acts of Charity

Summary: In her award-winning memoir Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup won the hearts of readers across the country with her deeply moving and deftly humorous stories of faith, hope and family. Now, with her inimitable voice and generous spirit, she turns her attention to the subjects of love and commitment in MARRIAGE AND OTHER ACTS OF CHARITY. As a minister, Kate Braestrup regularly performs weddings. She has also, at 44, been married twice and widowed once, and accordingly has much to say about life after the ceremony. -- Reagan Arthur

I'm going to preface this review by saying that MARRIAGE AND OTHER ACTS OF CHARITY by Kate Braestrup is not a book that I'd normally pick up. I tend to read a lot of fiction; and even though I enjoy the occasional memoir, I'd rather read something about a celebrity (I know, I know... how terrible is that?) And that's one of the reasons that I am so glad that I joined the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge. It "forced" me to read a book that was totally out of my element. And guess what? I really, really liked it!

I am finding it difficult to articulate why I enjoyed this book so much. I have never read a non-fiction book on marriage, and I didn't pick up this book with any expectations that it would "fix" anything. (Oh my, that didn't sound right. I have a wonderful husband and a really good marriage so it's not like we need "fixing.") I'm not even sure if I had much in common with the author. All I know is that I just enjoyed reading about the author's life experiences and her wonderful insights into everyday life, love, and relationships.

Kate Braestrup is the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service. She is also a mother and wife. She has had life experiences that I can only begin to imagine including losing her husband when he was killed in a traffic accident while on duty as a state trooper. She was suddenly left all alone with four young children. I absolutely loved how she showed all aspects of their marriage -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. I also really liked how she allowed the reader to see her pain, her healing process, and finally her new love.

While I was definitely hooked on the author's story, I think my favorite parts of the book were her insights on everything from marriage, to love, to relationships, to parenting, to friendship, to religion, to God, etc. I rarely do this, but I found myself quoting bits of this book to my husband because so many of her thoughts just echoed either what I feel or what I want to feel. I was so surprised (in a very good way) by how much this book touched my heart and caused me to evaluate myself. MARRIAGE AND OTHER ACTS OF CHARITY was extremely inspirational to me.

One thing that concerned me a little bit when I picked up this novel is how the author's voice would come across. I mean she is chaplain and I wouldn't have been surprised if the tone was a little preachy. I am so happy to say that this book was anything but preachy, and I was so impressed with the author's writing style. I thought this book was very well written (at times, her prose was beautiful and at the same time powerful), and I absolutely loved how she was constantly giving me something to think about.

I realize that MARRIAGE AND OTHER ACTS OF CHARITY isn't for everyone, but I actually thought it wasn't for me either. I encourage you to take a chance on this book even if you don't think you'll appreciate it. You just might be pleasantly surprised by how much this book will affect you.

Thanks to Kathy (aka Bermuda Onion) for sending me a copy of this book.


bermudaonion said...

Julie, your review is fantastic! You said so many of the things I wanted to say about this book but couldn't articulate.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I know what you mean about celebrities. But I read People Magazine (don't tell anyone) and some of the best stories are the non-celebrity ones! This sounds very readable, thanks to your great review!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I do want to read this book after reading both your review and Kathys. I don't care for the title for some reason but the story itself sounds great.

Carrie said...

I read Here if You Need Me and didn't realize she had another book out. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! (And yes, I agree, her writing style is not preachy at all.)

Carin Siegfried said...

I'm glad you liked this because I've recommended it to a couple of people even though I've not read it!
Wanted to let you know I gave you an award on my blog today:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like one I might enjoy. The title makes me laugh, though.

Just Mom said...

Everything I have read about this one has been good - will have to keep my eye open for it.

enyl said...

I'v sen this book around on the blogging circuit and passed it by numerous times;however,your mention of the author's great insights changed my mind, I'm now intrested in reading this book.
Great review!

Michelle (my books. my life.) said...

Glad to hear you liked it. I just got this book last week.