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Evensong (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Gail Godwin
ISBN 0345434773 / 9780345434777 / 0-345-43477-3
Publisher Ballantine Books
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In the tight-knit Smoky Mountain town of High Balsam, several weeks before the new millennium, Margaret Bonner finds herself pondering the notion of marriage. "I was mystified anew by this whole thing we humans do when we take it into our heads to love one particular person," she muses. At 33, she is the first woman pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church, and her husband, Adrian, is the headmaster of a progressive high school. The Bonners are in a marital slump--Adrian's self-loathing exasperates his younger, more passionate wife and she can't resist imagining what life would be like without him. Yet as the end of the century approaches, they are forced to turn their attention outward and respond to the escalating needs of their North Carolina community. The appearance of three colorful misfits brings matters to a head. Grace Munger, an aggressive fundamentalist Christian, is on a crusade to organize a "Millennium Birthday March for Jesus"; Brother Tony, a chatty 80-year-old itinerant who's taken up the life of a Benedictine monk, has a particular interest in Adrian; and Chase, a 16-year-old delinquent, harbors a thirst for liquor, with calamitous consequences. In her sequel to Father Melancholy's Daughter, Gail Godwin expertly traces the contours of faith, compassion, and loyalty in an isolated community on the brink of change. --Rebecca Robinson [via]