Wednesday, October 07, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: IN NAME ONLY




In Name Only
Author: Ellen Gable
Full Quiver Publishing: First edition (June 1, 2009)
Paperback: 414 pages

In June of 2006, I reviewed Ellen Gable’s first book, Emily’s Hope, which won an Honorable Mention Award for religious fiction in the 2006 Independent Publisher Book Awards. When she asked me to review her second book, In Name Only, I was more than eager to do it.

In Name Only by Ellen Gable is a captivating romance novel set in Philadelphia in the late 1800’s. It is the story of Caroline Martin, an innocent and beautiful young woman who leaves her  family home and heads for Philadelphia to live with her uncle and cousin following the death of her father. After many years of caring for her ill father and struggling to survive, Caroline’s life takes a turn for the better. She meets a handsome, virtuous, and wealthy man whose love is better than she ever imagined. Tragedy strikes...how will she handle it? Where will it take her on her faith journey?

In this second novel, author Ellen Gable tackles sensitive issues in a tasteful and subtle manner. For example, when Caroline Martin is faced with difficulties, the fair and noble neighbor Liam comes to her rescue, but it is the sexually obsessed and self-centered brother David, whose life becomes closely intertwined with hers in an unusual way. How does a Catholic author deal with the issue of sexual addiction without offending her readers? Very carefully -- Gable handles her readers with kid gloves – some of the scenes are suggestive, but not graphic in detail.

Gable has skillfully crafted this intriguing novel, introducing many turns and twists in the plot, which will keep her reader’s eyes glued to the page, eager to learn the outcome of her tale. As the reader proceeds, he/she discovers the true depth of the novel – which conveys the beautiful Catholic teachings on conjugal love, and shares both a pro-life story and a conversion story.

The characters in this novel are very believable and human – imperfect, and easy to relate to and empathize with. Gable reveals the dual nature of her characters, with which we can all identify. She shows us the dire consequences of their sinful behavior as well as the healing power of God's forgiveness when they turn their hearts to Him. There are many heart-warming as well as heart-wrenching scenes in this beautiful love story.

I believe In Name Only will be appealing to both adult men and women and that it is particularly suited for engaged and married couples. I see this book as a good tool for discussion in marriage preparation classes as well as a counseling tool for married couples.

Ellen Gable lives with her husband and five children in Pakenham, Ontario, Canada. She and her husband James Hrkach have been active in the last 25 years in Catholic apologetics, teaching Natural Family Planning, participating in Marriage Preparation, and promoting chastity. You can order In Name Only and Emily's Hope at her website, Full Quiver Publishing

© Jean M. Heimann October 7, 2009

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