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Evensong (Margaret Bonner #2)

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  1,501 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
A bestselling novel by a distinguished author brings to life the people of a small Smoky Mountain town and a woman whose world is indelibly altered by them. Beautifully written and filled with the insight and compassion Godwin is known for, "Evensong" is about family, the sometimes uncomfortable bonds of marriage, and the quest for religious faith.
Paperback, Ballantine Reader's Circle, 432 pages
Published February 29th 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,708)
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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
Kathryn Bashaar
Mar 04, 2010 Kathryn Bashaar rated it it was ok
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 Her compliant is that her husband withdraws from her, but she's very withdrawn herself in my opinion and is virtually never ...more
Jun 30, 2010 Crystal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
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.
Ron Charles
Nov 27, 2013 Ron Charles rated it it was amazing
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
Amy Shields
Feb 22, 2011 Amy Shields rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2012 Angeline rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 25, 2014 Annette rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Will remember the main character for a long time. Loved her view that a marriage should make more of both parties. Loved her musings on faith and human character. Loved her willingness to give of herself in an effort to be a good friend and a good shepherd. Highly recommend it.
Jun 03, 2012 Kimberly rated it did not like it
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.
Sep 10, 2016 Annette rated it it was amazing
A dozen years ago I read this book, but picked it up the other day off my bookshelf and thumbed through it. I realized this is a book worth re-reading. One thing that drew me back to the story was I was still working for the Catholic Church when I quickly read this book for graduate school. Now working and attending an Episcopal church, I have a deeper understanding of the liturgical language contained within the pages.

It's a richly layered novel with many interesting characters. It's a terrific
Nov 18, 2011 Edith rated it really liked it
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
Jun 30, 2009 Anne-Marie rated it liked it
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
Rena Sherwood
Feb 26, 2016 Rena Sherwood rated it did not like it
I have a pile of books that I read only to get drowsy enough to fall asleep. Evensong would rate five stars for that. But as a book, this is awfully pretentious and preposterous. The interview with the author at the book's end noted that this town "was a normal town" -- not by a long shot! People in this fictional town don't talk like real people. The whole Jesus March thing was confusing and ultimately unexplored. Many points in the book are brought up and then suddenly dropped. For example, th ...more
Oct 04, 2011 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Sep 06, 2010 Meg rated it liked it
Shelves: church-ladies
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
Mar 23, 2015 Mskychick rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
Pg 224-227
"Back when I was in seminary in New York, I once heard Raymond Brown, the Roman Catholic priest and scholar, give a talk on preparing for Advent. I was so struck with his insights that I forgot to take notes and could have kicked myself later. But last summer when was away in New York, I came across a monograph of his, A Coming of Christ in Advent in my seminary's bookstore, and guess what? Inside was the 'lost lecture' in the form of an essay. There's no way I can do justice to all o
Nancy Sobanik
Sep 30, 2014 Nancy Sobanik rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I felt the characters were richly textured, leading busy lives layers of relationship and situational complexity that made them authentic. Margaret, almost saint like in her goodness and wisdom. Others have commented that they did not understand why she was passive and did not try to draw her husband out of his negativity. I saw it as her ability to give love and support quietly, and not try to force solutions for others not ready for them. She let the relationship develop bet ...more
Annie Guthrie
Sep 05, 2010 Annie Guthrie rated it really liked it
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....
Aug 12, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
Margaret, the narrator in Father Melancholy's Daughter, has moved on to become a wife and Episcopal priest in a small mountain community in North Carolina. In this book, Godwin explores both the inner and outer lives of a pastor, who must provide strength, leadership and spiritual guidance to her flock, while dealing with her own very human problems. Godwin's love for the church, its liturgy and traditions, glows through the pages of this book; yet she confronts the reality of complicated, flawe ...more
Mar 21, 2010 TJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: ministry
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
Aug 10, 2016 Jan rated it it was amazing
When I first started reading this, it was not capturing my interest, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. It's a story about family relationships, with religious overtones. Gail has a wonderful way with words. Although the main character is an Episcopalian priest, and there are many religious thoughts of hers in the book, it is not ponderous or tiresome or preachy. It made me really think about this woman and her relationship to God and family, and seeing God in the world around us. I recommend this ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Bpatoosk rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brilliance
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
Jun 17, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Too wordy, no plot
Jan 09, 2013 Lida rated it liked it
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
Jan 25, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
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
Feb 02, 2014 maggie rated it really liked it
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
Sep 28, 2016 Angela rated it it was amazing
I love the intensity and depth of Southern writers, and I loved "Father Melancholy's Daughter" when I read it years ago. "Evensong" continues Margaret's story. Both of these books are about faith in God, in others, and in ourselves. The writing is rich and full of details (many of them liturgical or biblical). I am so glad to have stumbled on this and hope to read more of Gail Godwin's work over time. She was once called the contemporary George Eliot, by the way.
Oct 15, 2015 Pmcarver rated it it was ok
I'm a big fan of Gail Godwin but this particular book fell short. Although I liked the spiritual undertone in her story, she asked us to read too much minute detail about their everyday lives and so I thought about quitting it a couple of times out of frustration that the story wasn't going anywhere. It had a surprise ending and I was glad I stuck with it but I didn't get lost in this book like I have her others.
Sarah Brehm
Oct 01, 2014 Sarah Brehm rated it liked it
I mostly enjoyed this book, though it took me forever to read; it wasn't one of those books that I just had to read at every chance I got — instead, it was one that usually read before I went to bed. It took a while to actually get into the story because almost a quarter of the book is backstory. And it kind of ended awkwardly. But Godwin is an excellent writer and her descriptions of the North Carolina mountains makes me want to escape up there for a long weekend. Also, during one of Margaret B ...more
Dec 16, 2015 Nicky rated it really liked it
Although it was difficult for me to get immediately involved in this book, it was very satisfying by the end. The amount of tedious detail on physical surroundings in certain parts made for slow-going. However, I felt Godwin did an exquisite job of delving into the many layers and types of relationships people can have with one another and because I felt that detail was truly warranted, I kept at it. Made me look at my own life with a magnifying glass.
Feb 21, 2011 Elise rated it liked it
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
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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 about Gail Godwin...

Other Books in the Series

Margaret Bonner (2 books)
  • Father Melancholy's Daughter

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