Cover image for The sister circle
The sister circle
Bright, Vonette Z.
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Publication Information:
Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, [2003]

Physical Description:
339 pages ; 21 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Library

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The Sister Circle, book one of this charming contemporary series, introduces Peerbaugh Place, the quaint Victorian house that becomes a refuge to seven women of vastly different ages, personalities, and backgrounds. Through struggles and triumphs, the women forge a special bond of sisterhood. Readers will find their own place in the circle, gaining insight into their own spiritual gifts, as they laugh and cry with each of these women.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Bright and Moser's Sister Circle is the upbeat tale of widow Evelyn Peerbaugh, whose husband has left her only enough money for burial. Evelyn's conservative son points out that his mother isn't qualified to do much, and what's more, she's 55. Evelyn decides to open her house to boarders, who not very convincingly all turn out to be women of similar persuasions. These sisters in the Lord pray, share secrets, and cry together as in a hundred similar novels, many of which have been published by Tyndale; but certainly this one is unexceptionable, and slick. Less slick but funnier is Dunn's Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves, featuring amateur sleuth Ruby Taylor. Ruby once ran in the fast lane but now is slowly going to seed at a feed store in Montana. She decides to play detective when a friend is left at the altar. This smacks of Ruby's own romantic history, but the infamous groom may have been murdered. Dunn misses the mark with some of her details--having Ruby drive a Valiant, for instance, as the requisite beat-up car, unnecessarily dates the narrative. But Ruby's one-liners are a delight: "In all the fantasies I've had about being a great athlete, bowling has never come up." And Ruby, a gawky six-footer, is endearing as she primes her tired old psyche for one last go at love. Groot's lyrical and affecting first novel, The Brother's Keeper, is the story of James, brother of Jesus. With Joseph dead, James has been left to mind the store. Jesus is a wild man, maybe a Zealot, maybe an Essene, but in any case, his preaching has offended both the Sanhedrin and the Roman authority, and tragedy looms. James senses this but soldiers on, trying to hold together his fragile extended family and his business--even as tourists show up, anxious to steal shavings from the shop floor. In the end, James understands that "he [Jesus] had to be somebody's brother." James, rather like Martha in Joyce Landorf's bittersweet I Came to Love You Late (1977), is an empty vessel when the furies descend upon his brother, and then he is filled up again. At the senior prom, Ruth Hammond, of Henke's Finding Ruth, turned down a marriage proposal from the love of her life, Paul. Ruth wanted to leave boring Brewster, North Dakota, and lead an exciting life. But like George in It's a Wonderful Life, Ruth can never get out of town. She moves in with fast-talking Jack, and they start a radio station in Brewster, but there's never enough ad money to pay the bills. When Ruth works up the nerve to kick Jack out, Paul conveniently returns to town as bank president. Henke casts this inevitable romance as made in Heaven, but it may seem to the reader like a middle-aged woman's last, manipulative stand. Even so, Henke turns in a portrait of little Brewster that is at least as vibrant as Vinita Wright's in Grace of Bender Springs (1999). Two novels have been published this year in the odd genre of Christ cloning: James BeauSeigneur's In His Image [BKL Ja 1 & 15 03], and Lankford's Jesus Thief. Lankford's narrative is as eccentric as BeauSeigneur's, but she's more interested in characterization than technical background. Her Dr. Frankenstein is a rich physician named Felix Rossi, who, with elaborate subterfuge, manages to steal some threads from the shroud of Turin. Rossi believes himself an agent of the Second Coming. He prevails upon his long-suffering girlfriend to be his Mary, but she retreats in horror. Maggie Johnson, the maid, volunteers. As it happens, she's black. And a virgin. This is great stuff, and while Lankford's thriller plot occasionally intrudes, the delightful Maggie keeps everything on track. Presumably the first installment of another of his fine medieval trilogies, Lawhead's Patrick portrays the famous saint's youth, beginning with his privileged, reckless young manhood in Wales. Patrick is captured by pirates and spends seven painful years as a slave to an Irish chieftain. At last he escapes, in some ways betraying the woman he loves, and makes his way to Gaul. He becomes a sodier, rises in the ranks, and marries a Roman noblewoman. This may be the novel's weakest point, for the reader knows Patrick's wife has to die, or he'll never return to Ireland for his true life's work. In any case, Patrick is well-researched, earthy, and full of action--about all one could desire in a historical novel. Lliteras' Jerusalem's Rain opens with Jesus' closest followers staggering aimlessly through the streets, terrified. Only hours before, they witnessed the agonies of the Crucifixion in Thieves of Golgotha (1998) and Judas the Gentile (1999). Now, defeated and confused, they snap at one another profanely, explosively, helplessly. Peter seems to go mad as he agonizes over denying his Master. Gradually, the awful night draws to a close, and Jesus appears to Peter in a vision. The Master is resurrected, and hope is rekindled, for the disciples and the world. Still--Lliteras' great achievement--a feeling of violation lingers. Jerusalem's Rain is an open wound. British writer Plass' Ghosts tells of David Herrick, a man grieving for his dead wife, Jessica. David has withdrawn into a solitary existence punctuated by dreams that seem like communications from the beyond and are full of "ghosts." With some reluctance, he accepts the invitation for a reunion of old friends from Jessica's friend Angela. Members of the group, each wounded by life in some way, talk their way through their fears, killing off ghosts one by one. Preachy, and not really a ghost story; but also graceful, and perhaps helpful for someone who has recently lost a loved one.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sisterhood provides endless fodder for fiction, and when you combine this timeworn topic with the CBA market's current inclination to bring a nonfiction author and an up-and-coming novelist together to pen a series, some healthy skepticism is in order. In the first installment of the Sister Circle series, newly widowed 56-year-old Evelyn Peerbaugh must take in boarders to make ends meet. Her rooms fill up with a motley crew-Mae Fitzpatrick, an aging hippie who drives a old VW bug and runs a jewelry business called Silver-Wear; single mom Audra Taylor and her precocious five-year-old daughter, Summer; and the elderly Tessa Klein, a harsh Christian widow-described by Evelyn's horrified son Russell as "an overaged floozy, an unwed mother, an illegitimate child, and a judgmental grandma." Throw in her frequent visitors, and Evelyn is soon popping antacids like candy. Unfortunately, the plot is fairly hackneyed-there's the mandatory evangelical Christian conversion scene, and readers can see the groundwork being laid for predictable developments in future installments. The novel's strength is in its multifaceted and sometimes unexpected characterizations: Tessa, for example, though the only practicing Christian residing in the household, is also the least lovable character. Moser, as she did in The Seat Beside Me, showcases her ability to pull off multiple characters and points of view without losing the pacing of the story. However, like her previous book, this one suffers from some preachy passages in places where a more subtle touch might have proven more effective. (Feb.) Forecast: Despite the occasional heavy-handedness, and with Bright's well-known name tagged with Moser's, this series should do well in the CBA market. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved