Here's my review for this month's book for the Christian Fiction Book Club. Julie is hosting over at My Only Vice so go check out what she has to say and others who have linked to her blog.
Dancing on Glassby Pamela Ewen is about Amalise Catoir a young woman studying law in New Orleans in the 1970’s. She meets a man named Phillip Sharp who she finds both charming and disturbing. Her naiveté from growing up shielded in a small town keeps her from recognizing the danger Phillip poses and despite warnings from friends, family, and her own good judgment she embarks on a relationship with him. This book is about the choices we make and how we deal with the consequences. Amalise learns you can’t pretend everything’s okay and it will all go away.
This book was difficult to read. Often I just wanted to shake Amalise. There were so many signs for what kind of person Phillip was but she continued to let him manipulate her. I have a very hard time empathizing with people in this situation. Anyone who justifies abuse against themselves needs serious prayer because that is a vicious cycle to get out of. I’d like to think that I would be different, but I guess you don’t know until you’re there.
I’ve been so blessed in my relationships to have the most supportive friends and family. They’re there to support me when I do well and set me straight when I mess up. One of the things that struck me most is Amalise’s desire to justify her actions to God. How often do we do that? Then when we feel distant from God we don’t understand. Why isn’t He there for us? The less time we spend seeking God’s voice the less we’re going to be able to hear it and recognize it later on. We quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and don’t allow Him to work through and in us.
All in all I’m not too sure how I feel about this book. It was an interesting and engrossing read, but I’m not sure how much I enjoyed it because of the subject matter. It was frustrating to say the least. It’s not really a happy read, but I did like the writing. The author is good at using past and present situations as metaphors for internal characterization. So, I’d recommend you read it, but don’t expect it to be a light read.
From the discussion questions:
10. Phillip says to Amalise: “When you’re not with me, I’m not alive…I don’t exist without you.” Variations of that thought appear throughout the book. What does Phillip mean by this? How does this affect Amalise’s emotional bond to her husband in the relationship?
I’m pretty sure this should be a warning flag to anyone if this is said to them. Something like, hey this person is loony should probably pop into your head. Phillip defines himself by his circumstances, whether or not he’s teaching classes, or has art shown in a gallery, or has symbols of social status, or has a pretty woman by his side. Phillip sees those things as his purpose in life, and if he doesn’t have them, then his life is meaningless. Amalise provided many of those things for him and he needed her close by as an assurance that he still has those things.
Phillip used phrases like this to ensure Amalise felt guilty for not devoting herself to him. For not defining herself the way he thought she should, by her relationship to him. Amalise felt like Phillip needed her to save him instead of recognizing the fact that only God can. We think too highly of ourselves if we believe we can do what only God can. It’s a heady thing to feel needed.
The next book for the Christian Fiction Book Club is on December 17 and it’s She Walks in Beautyby Siri Mitchell. I read this a while back so I’m going to have to go back and refresh myself.