Review by Heather
A special thank you to Amanda Barber for sending me a copy of her book for review.
MY TAKE –
Growing up I was always taught that there are two things that you don’t discuss, religion and politics; especially in mixed company. I have always tried to adhere to this advice and found it especially prudent when I joined the workforce and most certainly the case as I have aged. As I read the Introduction to The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse by Amanda Barber I became increasingly nervous. Here I was reading a book that clearly delves into faith, a book that I agreed to review, and I don’t talk about religion. In fact, when people around me talk about religion I tend to shy away or remove myself from the conversation. As I continued reading I thought, “Nice Heather! How are you going to wiggle your way out of this one?” I quickly decided that wasn’t fair or possible so, here it is.
I’m not a religious person. I don’t go to mass, I don’t read the Bible, and I don’t pray every night before going to bed. Really, I don’t know what I think or feel about religion or a higher power. This has been a gray area in my life since I was 13-years-old and continues to be as I celebrate my 33rd birthday this month. At the age of 13 my grandfather passed away. We were extremely close and this was my first real experience with death; it was absolutely devastating. A year later my father passed away, I was 14-years-old and my world was completely shattered. Almost immediately everything spiraled out of control. My older sister moved out, my mom took a “timeout” from life, and there I was fending for my 8-year-old sister during the day and planning my suicide at night. Our family battled hardship after hardship the year that my father died and it was then that I came to understand that there is an old saying that is true, “When it rains it pours.” This time in my life began the destruction of my relationship with God and over the years things really haven’t improved. As time has moved on, as it always does, the bumps in the road that our family has endured have seemed more like craters….okay, okay, everyone has their sad story. We all face tragedy in one way or another … this is just my story. Maybe we should just talk about the book.
In her debut novel, Amanda Barber shares the story of Elizabeth Millhouse. Elizabeth is born the only child of wealthy, unemotional parents who send her away to boarding school at the age of seven. While there, Elizabeth thrives academically and artistically. Thanks to her caretakers, she also grows and comes to realize what it truly feels like to be loved and cared for. They also teach her about God’s love, mercy, and grace.
After being called home by her mother, Elizabeth finds her father on his death bed. As they talk, really for the first time, she learns that he is a changed man and it is then that she is graced with words that she has been yearning to hear for years, “I love you.” That night she prays for her father’s health and recovery but feels rejected by God when she awakens to find that her father has passed. This tragedy creates a broken, hardened young woman that is callous towards anyone and anything that involves God. To me, that is where Elizabeth Millhouse’s story really begins.
Author, Amanda Barber has written a beautiful and intriguing story that cuts to the heart while dealing with realistic circumstances and the way people think and respond to life’s events. While I believe the overarching message of this novel is Christianity, there is so much more to the story. Barber looks at pain, death, loss, and sorrow in an in-depth way that most writers do not and a way that draws her readers in. Her characters struggle with faith and tragedy like we all do.
The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse is an interesting, compelling, and emotionally powerful novel that keeps one contemplating. Barber’s addition of “Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson was fitting to the storyline and eloquent. This inclusion gives the reader the chance to reflect upon the pursuit of the Hound of Heaven in his or her own life. I read the novel a week ago and it took me until today to begin to come to terms with how I feel about what I read. Because of my own demons I don’t feel comfortable or confident reflecting, in-depth, on the religious aspects of this novel. What I will say is that I have found myself often thinking back to Elizabeth’s story and wondering if I am worthy and deserving of God’s love, mercy, and grace… if there is a God.
The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse is a reflective read. I strongly recommend this novel to anyone who has lost a loved one and struggles with why God allows such things to happen. For me, a lot of what I read really struck a chord.
To pick up a copy of The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse by Amanda Barber click HERE.
Born to privilege and wealth, Elizabeth Millhouse is the only child of a tense and loveless relationship. Sequestered to a boarding school at a tender age, Elizabeth is ordered to stay at school even through the holidays. When she is finally allowed home for the first time, it is only to visit a newly affectionate father on his death bed.
After prayers for her father’s recovery are denied, she rejects God and determines to live her life without reference to Him. Left alone with a cold and distant mother, Elizabeth seeks to forge her own path, searching for permanence and love in a world where circumstances shift like quicksand beneath her feet.
Personal loss and the revelation of her own history build to a sudden understanding—in closing herself to God, she has denied herself the very love she craves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
AMANDA BARBER is the author of numerous stories and essays. Her interest in writing began at age eleven, after pulling a journal out of her Christmas stocking. From journaling, she branched out into stories and novelettes. She since developed one of those stories into the novel, The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse. Amanda is first and foremost a Christian, and it is her desire to provide captivating fiction that entertains while it encourages other Christians to keep close to God.
CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR –
To visit Amanda Barber’s WEBSITE click HERE.
To connect with Amanda Barber on FACEBOOK click HERE.
To connect with Amanda Barber on TWITTER click HERE.
Amanda Barber has teamed with Griffin’s Honey and would like to offer ONE lucky fan the opportunity to win a paperback copy of her book, The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse. To enter, simply follow the easy giveaway below. Please note, this giveaway is open to residents of the United States that are 18 years or older.