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Sorely disappointed with Francine Rivers right about now

What is even going on right now??
What is even going on right now??
First of all, one of my greatest pet peeves will always be people who criticize other people for things they’re not doing.

So, like, if you’re all, “Mother Theresa isn’t all that. I mean, what’s she ever done for homeless pets?”


Anyway, I realize I’ve never published a novel…or even written a novel. So I can’t really judge. Let me state that as a fact.

That being said, OK, what was going on with this book? A Voice in the Wind?

Reasons I read it:

  1. I read Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love book. I didn’t love it at first, but it ended well. I didn’t ever love it, actually, but I appreciated it in the end. Easy, light reading. And I saw her point and appreciated it.
  2. Recommended by both Lauren and Colleen. Both, mind you! And highly recommended.

Ladies, this post is for you.

***SPOILER ALERT. I talk about things in the book.***

Explain to me what I am missing. I don’t even know what’s going on anymore.

I’ll tell you what I appreciated:

New game! Read an Eyewitness book and write a story! (Image source)
New game! Read an Eyewitness book and write a story! (Image source)

  1. I could tell she did some research. Like, we heard about Roman traditions and gods with some early church history thrown in for good measure. Granted, I feel like most of the research could have been found in an “Eyewitness” book, but that could because I was homeschooled.
  2. I was happy that we saw Hadassah’s inner prayer life. I dug it. I was a little disappointed that it was all, “I’m not good enough!!11!!” when she’s all saving babies and what not…but, I could handle that.

This is what I can’t wrap my mind around: character development! And plot! It actually made me so mad! Let me break down characters:

Hadassah. OK, I get it. We’re supposed to like her. And, you know, I carry a sense of fondness in my heart. What I didn’t get, though, was her attraction to Marcus. I DON’T GET IT. And we hear about this rather frequently. The only thing we ever hear from the author is that he was attractive, attractive, attractive.

Whatever, girlfriend, I ain’t impressed. Is there something I’m missing?

Marcus. I actually really don’t like him. Things he does to Hadassah: nearly rapes her. I think several times. (“NO MEANS NO!”) He hits her a few times. He “shakes” her at least once. He forbids her from worship. I kept waiting for the Mr. Darcy moment where I’d be like, “Oooooooh! He’s not a jerk!” But, it never came. I feel like the closest we were supposed to come was, “…and then, he didn’t actually rape her.”

No dice, mate, no dice. Keeping your pants on does not a hero make. In fact, I now despise your character.

It makes me conflicted: am I supposed to think he’s all that??

Atretes. I think I liked him. It was enough to keep me reading until the end. I think I just wanted him and Hadassah to end up together in a, “we’re the two people with realistic personalities” moment. But, not really. Because he was kind of a womanizer, too, in his own way. But he still had a bit of nobility.

I also skipped his battle scenes towards the end when I realized that they served no purpose—they were just there to fill a violence quota or something.

Julia. What the crap. I guess we aren’t supposed to like this one, right? But she was so unlikeable there was nearly a formula for it. “Oh, Hadassah saved my life. Whatever, girl, Imma send her to the lions.” Be real for fifteen seconds. Make her relateable. I wanted to relate to these people…but this was just a little much.

Calabah. I feel like Francine Rivers wants to make us know: the bad characters are bad. Therefore she will illustrate with the worst things she can think of. “Hi, I’m Calabah! I’m going to encourage you to have an abortion! And marry a homosexual man! And poison your other husband! Abandon your infant on the rocks!” (Not even exaggerating right now).

I mean, the author doesn’t even give her the decency to let her smile, did you notice that? Sometimes her “mouth will curl.”

Ms. Rivers, even people who are “evil” can smile, OK?
This character was just supposed to be evil for evil’s sake?

K, fine.

I’ll give it to you. I don’t like it, though. I think it’s cheap and silly. Here’s a character with no developed reasons to be evil who just decides, on every turn, to encourage the most vile life decisions.

Phoebe and the father. His name starts with a “D”. Am I supposed to like them? I really don’t know. Only thing I could tell you in an off-the-cuff book report: he gets ill, she worships Roman gods. And I don’t really care.

Plot: Home-girl Hadassah starts off captured in Jerusalem. Is sold to a Roman family. Hands-y son takes a fancy. Spoiled sister bosses her around. Haddassah bounces between being abused by the sister and handled by the brother. Both brother and sister continue to make formula-bad life choices. Somewhere in there Hadassah meets the Apostle John.

And then she’s thrown to the lions.

The end.

I break myself of my New Years’ Resolution to finish this trilogy. Because if you can’t tell me a good story in one book, odds are pretty good you can’t tell me a good story in three.

I close with six words from Ernest Hemmingway. In six words, a better story than 500 pages.

It’s said that Hemmingway was asked if he could write a story using six words.

His alleged story:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Bammity bam.

There’s some literature.

Now, go and read Ben Hur. And then talk to me.

Or just talk to me now and read Ben Hur later. Because I seriously don’t know what’s going on.

13 thoughts on “Sorely disappointed with Francine Rivers right about now

  1. Okay, here we go with a wee bit of explanation.

    I will grant you the character development is basically nil on everyone except Hadassah in this book. Also, the plot is fairly predictable. Francine Rivers reminds me of Mr Hoey’s class when we read Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald. Mr Hoey said that the good characters come across as perfect and that is a failing of MacDonald’s. I think that Ms Rivers shares this failing, and she carries it over to the bad characters too. They are completely bad. And she does try to fit in every ‘christian’ hot-button issue possible.

    Also, I have always thought that there was not enough reason for Hadassah to fall in love with Marcus. I’ll totally give ya that one! (He does improve, on closer acquaintance, however.)

    That said, this is supposed to be a trilogy. It was not intended to be finished in one book. So if you stop now, you are missing a great deal of the story and development and whatnot. If those are your major issues, then you will want to read at least the next book. That is the one that carries on the story with those in Rome. It does not continue the story of Atretes, his story is completed in the last book of the trilogy.

    This trilogy, and many of Francine Rivers’ books, are a simple read, and come across overly simplistic at times, but there are beautiful truths too. I want the faith of Hadassah. The necessity of those in the early Church to have the word in the hearts because it wasn’t even written out for them to read yet is inspiring. And the trials that they had to go through help us keep our lives in perspective. Her journey through this book of making her family’s faith her own and deepening her relationship with her God that let all these terrible things happen to her and her family and her race so that she was willing to suffer death, that is a beautiful thing. And as to the other characters, I shall not address them, there is more to come that will explain more.I think the fact that you are unsure of some of them says that Ms Rivers did a good enough job of ambiguity between the good and bad for some of the characters at least, if not the main ones. 😉

    My advice is to keep reading, but I will not be hurt if you decide it’s not worth it to you. It is up to you to decide what to do with the time that is given you.

    1. You address all my issues with grace, as per usual. I agree that Hadassah’s faith was a good journey to study; and I also thought about Mr. Hoey and Sir Gibbie several times in this book.

      But, I think I hold to what I told Colleen. If I can’t be convinced in five hundred pages that someone can tell a good story…I’m not about to give them another five hundred.

      1. Well, you liked Hadassah more because the first book focused more on her, you get to follow Marcus’ conversion in the next one! And Phoebe (his mom) reminds me a bit of you…but I won’t say why. And the third one makes me think of you because it’s a walking journey across all of Europe basically. (Totally up your alley, no?) You’d like it…maybe…haha. It’s Atretes’ story. And Rizpah is a fun spitfire of a character.

        But I will also stick with what I told when I said I would not be hurt if you did not continue.

        What is your next summer book, then?

  2. Oh, and yes, I want to read Ben Hur! Possibly this summer…OR! maybe I’ll head up to the library tonight!

      1. yes, we should!

        or perhaps we should talk before we finish that tome!

    1. Yessssss. If you guys want to write a novel based off of an Eyewitness book, you have my blessing.
      (Please don’t make the love interest a rapist).

      1. I can safely say I will never have the desire to have my love interest thusly characterized. We did write a vampire play, but he was evil just to be evil. Because Vampire and it was a comedy.

  3. Hahahahha! I’ve never read this book, but I read this whole article in your voice/with your mannerisms and I was dyinggg of laughter 😀 Happy Tuesday!

  4. May I ask if you finished at least the second book? The third one is Atretes’ story but at least there is closure by the end of book 2.

    1. I actually have a very formed opinion on trilogies and that is: if I didn’t find the first book a good book…I steer clear of the next two. So: no. I never read the follow-ups.

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