Evensong
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Evensong

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,201 ratings  ·  138 reviews
To read Gail Godwin is to touch the very core of human experience. With inimitable grace and aching emotional precision, Godwin probes our own complexities in characters whose lives oscillate between success and struggle, stoic resolve and quixotic temptation, bitter disappointment and small, sacred joys. Now with Evensong, she again translates our everyday existence into...more
Paperback, Ballantine Reader's Circle, 432 pages
Published February 29th 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published 1999)
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Kathryn Bashaar
This book was very readable but ultimately very disappointing. The main disappointment is the main character, a young female Episcopal priest. She is basically the Reverend Mary Sue. All of her emotions are told, not shown. She is ever-serene and quietly musing, regardless of the chaos around her, and has a calm, wise answer for every question. She's just very unsatisfying. Her compliant is that her husband withdraws from her, but she's very withdrawn herself in my opinion and is virtually never...more
Christine Hill
I was very moved and touched by this book. I shy away from books like this sometimes, afraid of superficial dabblings in human relationship. But I didn't find that in this book. It is motivated and organized around communion with the Divine, which gives it depth and meaning (at least to me). But it is really the relationships that drive the story. Deep characters, with everyday flaws--things that plague us all--insecurities, regrets, fears, and failures, among others. Its saving grace is the thi...more
Angeline
I am taken with the ability of the writer to evolve the story in the present, through the reflections written in first person narrative of the main character.

I would not normally have picked up a novel with such bible referenced text, for fear that I am being preached to. Quite the opposite, I am engaged on a level which feels so personal and intimate, and might just be helping to change my thinking in a very constructive good way.

I feel happily connected to this book.
Crystal
There is a quite a satisfying feeling reading Godwin's books. Can't really put my finger on the why. Her topics really meet me where I live deep inside.
Edith
A very interesting sequel to “Father Melancholy’s Daughter” - this relates the next chapter in young Margaret’s life which you will want to know if you read the first book. I definitely recommend reading them in sequence to get the most from this story. Hear, hear.

I particularly liked the religious setting of this story and the way in which the story is presented through the eyes of a faith practice- Episcopalian.There were ideas to think about. Godwin is a very careful writer - she obviously ch...more
Anne-Marie
Interesting book. The religious discussions and conflicts were thought provoking and made me wonder if I should switch from Catholicism to Episcopalian. It seems so inclusive and reasonable to me. The characters were also interesting, but the plot was far from captivating. Gail Godwin obviously loves words and I found myself keeping a list of vocabulary words to look up and memorize - sizz, stobs, scurrile, caromed, peroration, thurifer, etc. What do you think of this sentence: "From high in a f...more
Katherine
It's hard to pin-point whether this book is a religious book or a book about religion. The characters, command of language and story-line have depth and sensitivity which goes beyond your average book. But at times, the predictability of the story arc as well as some of the cookie-cutter peripheral characters diluted the rich text. One thing that I keep coming back to is the great quotes in the book. Gail Godwin has a talent for writing about morality without sounding preachy and for coming up w...more
Meg
My only complaint about this book was that it was a lot of work to read. I'll take that back: the ending was lame, also. On the way to the ending, there was some interesting stuff about family dynamics and theology. On the theological front, I sometimes felt the author was lecturing (wait, that may be another complaint). But in general the theology was radical enough to appeal to me. My favorite bit was when the narrator (female Episcopal priest) described her faith as not so much believing in G...more
Annie Guthrie
I have read this book several times ...on the first reading it was hard to get through, it is definitely not plot driven ....Second reading I loved it....I was reading for the words and ideas...lovely book about a relationship that adapts and sustains....
TJ
Mar 21, 2010 TJ rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ministry, own
Awesome book. Most honest and realistic discussion of religion and faith I've seen in a long time. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is or interested in religion
Kimberly
How did this make the New York Times best seller list? Redundant to the point of ad nauseam. Plot points are contrived and characters are soulless.
Bpatoosk
I'm going to go out on a limb and give this book a five. The story was slow in some parts (makes me want to put a four)... but the content was just so beautiful and good that I have to give it a five. I am very impressed that a story from the point of view of a priest/preacher/rector (whatever the right terminology is)turned out, not only 'well', but great. The questions this book asks and only sometimes answers are good ones, and a book about a priest being willing to ask questions is an excell...more
Ron Charles
Congress wrote God onto every dollar bill, but it's always been hard to find that statement of faith written in American literature. The Puritans had no use for such light diversions as fiction. And those 19th-century classics that still bedevil high school students ("Walden," "The Scarlet Letter," "Moby Dick") were composed by nonconformists who thought of themselves as outside the temple gates.

In our own century, the triumph of irony, ambiguity, and downright cynicism has made America's highbr...more
Lida
There was an incredible amount of thinking, musing, and reflecting on religious philosophy in this book. The book focuses on the life of two Episcopalian priests in a small western North Carolina town. (It is strange coincidence that I picked up a book about a woman who married a man twice her age right after I read a short story (one of the stories from "The Shell Collector") about a man who married a woman half his age. These pairings are not that common.) Anyway, this book tells the tale of t...more
Andrew
This is a story of hope and it spoke to my heart for precisely that reason. Each of the central characters needs a renewal of hope for some reason and while I would not say that any reader could identify with at least one of these characters, I certainly found myself doing so. These are not people in extremely desperate situations. They are people who in the journey of life find themselves questioning their purpose and identity, each in different ways. The author could easily have taken their st...more
Amy Shields
I really like this, I'm not sure why because it's about a female Episcopalian priest married to a pastor and I'm not religous. But she's a great writer, very down to earth and she addresses some big questions that are big whether you look at them from a religous perspective or not. I guess it's sort of in the vein of those Jan Karon books (which I read a really long time ago) but I'd say there's more depth.

I was struck by a passage regarding advent, again not from a religious aspect, but just i...more
maggie
An unusual context, interestingly blending the religious world with everyday life. The main character's marriage was a bit hard to fathom - their best communication was in letters, she adored him but never seemed to make any effort to discuss important things like his depressive withdrawals. Good times between them always seemed to catch them by surprise. In fact, generally Margaret is very passive, always allowing things to unfold and mildly accepting of crises. However the story is intricate,...more
Elise
Loved this book. The story is told by an Episcopal priest, Margarent Bonner. She is married to Adrian, also a priest, currently running a private school for "challenging" kids. Their marriage is under some strain, which is increased by the arrival of a "monk" named Tony, and then a 16-y-o boy from the school, Chase, who's been expelled. At the core of the story is the conflict between Margaret and Grace Munger, who arrives in town to organize a millennial Birthday March for Jesus. Rumors abound...more
Linda
In this sequel to “Father Melancholy”, Margaret has now married the Episcopal priest who was her father’s friend in the first book. She has also gone to seminary herself, and is pastor of a small Episcopal church in West Virginia, while her husband is Chaplain, and then Headmaster, of a private school nearby. They are beset with three people who enter their lives: a former monk who shows up on their doorstep and isn’t what he claims to be, a woman organizing a millennium religious celebration, a...more
Lily
I like Gail Godwin's writing and the topics she explores. Gentle, insightful -- plays to my own involvement with church practices.

This is a sequel to Father Melancholy's Daughter. As I recall these many years later (2012), I wanted it to deal more with the psychological aftereffects of the protagonist's abandonment by her mother when she was a child than it did.

Gail Godwin's writing reminds me of that of Anne Tyler, with its thoughtful exploration of emotions and actions in families and among fr...more
Mandy
It took me a bit to get into this book. It just seemed slow at the beginning and I didn't really care that much for or about the protagonist of the novel at that point. By the end, though, I was rooting for Margaret and Adrian, hoping Chase recognized his potential, and completely head over heels for the flawed and resilient Tony. I loved that this book was about a couple of Episcopal priests. I spend so much of my time in Baptist world that it was good to refocus on another denomination and rem...more
Kat
This book started very slowly and took me a while to get into, but it ended up being perfect for our snow days: peaceful and comforting. The main protagonist is a female Episcopal priest who is trying to navigate the ups and downs of her marriage to a gloomy man and manage several subplots. I liked how deeply human many of the characters were and how deeply they thought about religion. I was disappointed with the ending: most of the subplots are tied up a little too neatly, but we never find out...more
Diane
Boring! I've been trying to get into the book for 3 days now and still only got to pg.13. Just didn't capture my interest. I hate giving up on a book once I've started reading it. ...I gave it another try. After 40 something pages, I just couldn't connect with characters or the story line.
EThayer3
The story of Margaret, a female Episcopalian priest, her husband Adrian, Tony - the odd character who comes out of seemingly nowhere and has a lengthy stay in Margaret and Adrian's home and Chase, the errant student at Adrian's school who also makes a lengthy stay at the parsonage.

The story itself was good, filled with occasional enjoyable moments but it dragged on way too long in many parts and is full of VERY LONG paragraphs, which made for very difficult reading. We go back and forth between...more
Marvin
Even more theological, if anything, than Father Melancholy's Daughter, one of my favorite books. The main character, Margaret, an Episcopal priest, was the title character in that earlier book. There's lots of theological insight--about the Psalms, about death, about Advent, for example--but the heart of the book is nurturing challenging relationships through 4 subjects: her marriage to Adrian is entering new territory; they take on a troubled teenager; Adrian's father shows up in disguise; and...more
Patricia
I loved this book. It had such realistic take on life as a Pastor/priest in a small town and deep theological depths that never took away from the storyline or derailed me. Love love love.
Nancy
I need to read more of Gail Godwin's books. Once again, her characters are so distinct you feel that you could pick them out on the street. In Evensong the first-person narrator is the rector of an Episcopal parish in North Carolina. Her husband is also an Episcopal priest who works for a school for at-risk boys in the same small community. The emotionally-charged events of the story occur during the few, short weeks of Advent, centering around the arrival in town of an especially troubled boy,...more
Katie Pozzuoli
This book was just okay. It took about 250 pages to hook my interest, but in the end I did really like all four of the main characters. However, it had a melancholy tone throughout and the final plot twist almost ended poorly (read: sad; I hate dad endings), which would've been the final nail in the coffin for me. However, it (mostly) redeemed itself in the final few pages.
Irene
Had I read this book at the age of 14, I would have loved it. This world in which all the adults are incapacitated mirrored what I longed for, a world free of adult criticisms, demands and limitations where I could prove my competence. I dreamed of falling in love and marrying young, these teen lovers and their elopement would have played into my fantasies. The backdrop of irrational prejudice would have fed my glowing sense of adolescent righteousness. But, I am nearly four times that age. Thes...more
Phoebe Kate Foster
Nowhere near as impressive as Father Melancholy's Daughter, but sequels seldom are as good as the first book (or movie or whatever.) While Godwin's ability to draw in a reader and mesmerize him/her never fails, the story has an oddly strained quality about it, the characterizations are a little too stereotypic, the ending is abrupt and not satisfying. It feels as if the author simply ran out of steam after a couple hundred pages and bailed out as fast as possible. Still, any Godwin book is worth...more
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Gail Kathleen Godwin is an American novelist and short story writer. She has published one non-fiction work, two collections of short stories, and eleven novels, three of which have been nominated for the National Book Award and five of which have made the New York Times Bestseller List.

Godwin's body of work has garnered many honors, including three National Book Award nominations, a Guggenheim Fe...more
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