As part of my Autumn Bucket list (remember that? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t – I barely remember it myself) I had resolved to have a proper go at some Christian fiction alongside other reading duties. I have felt in the past that I have not really given Christian fiction the attention it deserves sometimes. This is partly due to some “mixed results” in this type of fiction that I read as a youngster. Most of it was either of the “Don’t Get Left Behind!” genre with various stories of planes crashing, people’s foreheads being branded with 666 and every single Christian in the world finding that, in fact they were never a Christian, because their wife/husband had been taken and they hadn’t, also that their pastor/vicar was not a Christian either because when they ran to the church for support, the pastor would always be sat in the front row looking particulalrly sheepish. The other equally disapointing genre was “Christian romance” where no-one was ever troubled by lust and any problems (usually revolving around being unequally yolked, partners who were unsuitable and worrying about whether the romance would last the always “long hot summer”) would alsways be solved by a kindly, wise vicar who watched the couple from afar in a wise kindly and in no way slightly stalky way. (Only, presumably to be very disappointed by finding himself alone on the front row after the rapture) I was brought up in a household where Aged Parent felt that Christian fiction of any sort was both pointless and possibly a “bad influence” (You have the BIble and real lfe stories – what do you need fiction for?) She was not alone in this viewpoint. She has made recent exceptions for Christian Fiction set in places such as the Twin Towers, a Tsunami and a hostage situation. It’s a wonder I ever read anything. Anyway – digression!
This week I have read “The Gardener’s Daughter” by KA Hitchens and it is a chicken of an entirely different feather. I am not sure if it is aimed at me – it may be for the Young Adult market but I am only saying this because the heroine is a young person. Not twelve or anything – but a nineteen year old young woman. It is also not “in your face” Christian. Someone without a faith background may not spot it at all but there are recurring themes of love, loyalty and goodness and a Father who tends a Garden lovingly – so I think we know what is going on. Having been brought up by her father after the death of her mother, a chance discovery brings her whole world crashing down and she runs away from home – not realising that there are darker forces at work and she is in danger. I can’t really say much more without giving the game away. It is a bit of a stormer this and it certainly gallops along. It is, to use the apt phrase, a page turner. Ava – the heroine – is not completely sympathetic and that is a good thing I think – sometimes main Christian characters are too saintly to empathise with. I felt for her but sometimes thought that she brought some disasters onto herself. There is a moment where she was hiding some cash and I was yelling – don’t do that!! And dear reader, I was right. (Sorry bit vague – trying to avoid spoilers) But she is brave and determined, her relationship with a young private detective is funny and sweet and the world she plunges herself into – in a seedy holiday camp – is very well realised. I enjoyed it a lot.