I have read Redeeming Love and the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers and I thought the books were engaging and thought-provoking. The theme of The Masterpiece is strong, and I appreciated what she was trying to do.
I use a rubric to rate books I review. There are five categories each scoring between 2-10 points. (Warning: There are spoilers in the rest of the review.)
How engaging is it? 6 points. I could put it down and do other things. There was more action in the second half of the book.
How do I feel about the book? 6 points. Not bad. Not good. Often a good book, just not the right one for me. Gleaned a few nuggets from it.
Style – 6 points. Wasn’t detracted or impressed. A chain-restaurant experience. As a Christ follower growing up with a difficult childhood, I found many of her references both in Grace’s childhood and adulthood hard to believe. It is not the way I would talk (overtly using Christianese). I am passionate about my relationship with God and love to share how His love had made me whole with people who are interested. I would have preferred a book that layered in faith, abuse and everything in between instead of using direct words. That being said, I recognize writing is subjective and I think this technique is common in Christian Fiction. My opinion also seems to be in the minority, if you are interested in this book I would encourage you to check out the many positive reviews on Amazon.
Character, Theme, Plot, Setting 4 points.
- A couple of times she retold a scene using the almost the same words. It was a long book, I would have preferred she used tighter writing.
- The book starts with acknowledgments. I wish it would have been at the back of the book. It had spoilers.
- In the scene in Italy, there were some errors that could have been easily fixed with an internet search. Saint Peter’s Basilica does not require a hefty admission fee, it is a church and free to visit. Also, the Sistine Chapel is at the end of the visit to the Vatican, not tucked away in the corner part way through the museum.
- There was a scene where Grace gave the landlord her first and last month’s rent as a security deposit. A few chapters later when she left the house, she said she forfeited the security deposit and last month’s rent.
- Rome was working on painting a rare landscape piece and the author spent a lot of time talking about how much it was going to mean to Grace only to have him sell it off to someone else. I would have liked to see the piece come back into play later in the book.
- Given the irony of how closely their childhoods paralleled, I would have liked to see their reactions be more surprised.
- About halfway through the book, I figured out how the book was going to end. I wish it hadn’t been so obvious.
- Both characters “pressed the heels of their hands against their eyes.” I would have liked to see the unique traits of each character.
Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation – 8 points. Few to no errors. Only subjective or preference issues.
- She used the word sardonic four times. I realize this is a preference issue, but she used it so many times in Redeeming Love I’ve come to strongly dislike the word.
- The writing wasn’t as strong as it could be. For example, “Grace opened her locker, switched out her textbooks.”
Her other books were solid four stars. In my opinion, this book is a high three-star or low four-star book. The rubric agreed with me as came out to 30/50. That is a high three star. I am choosing to rate it a three star because I feel anything higher would disrespect her other books.
I would recommend it to someone who wants to know more about God’s redemptive love in easy to understand the language or someone who enjoyed this genre.
Summarize the book in one sentence. You are not defined by your past.
I have received a copy of this book from Tyndale House for an honest review of the product.