Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Book Review: Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron

Pastor Chase Falson has lost his faith - and he did it right in front of the congregation of his mega-church. Now the elders want him to take some time away. Chase visits his Franciscan-priest uncle in Italy, where he studies the teachings of Francis of Assisi and rediscovers Francis' ancient faith.
Cron calls this book "wisdom literature," a combination of fiction and non-fiction. I was told it was a novel, so I read it as a novel, and I was not disappointed. Cron pulls you in on the opening page with his easy style and beautiful prose (I've re-read his passage on Italian nuns several times - he has a mastery of words!). It's easy to relate to and with Chase Falson as he struggles through his faith because Cron creates believable characters with real dilemmas. You experience Chase's struggles, see Italy through his eyes, and walk in his shoes - it's everything you want from a well-written novel.

My big beef with the book is that it was pitched as a novel, but it's "wisdom literature," so it was kind of preachy (literally, there's a long sermon at the end). Despite this, however, I still enjoyed the book. As I said, I chose to read it as a novel, and as novel it is superb.

As "wisdom literature," however, I don't agree with his conclusion (as Christians we strive to be Christ-like, not Francis-like).

I wasn't sure how to rate this book, so I split the difference. As a novel (pure fiction), five stars. As wisdom literature (with theology laced in), three stars. Even if you don't agree with his conclusion, though, this is a fabulous read. I haven't read such a well-written story in a long time.

*I received a copy of this book for free as part of the Book Sneeze program in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones: I couldn't put the book down (though a little melodramatic, but it is a YA novel). Jones combine the right amount of subplot, romance, drama and comedy. Now one of my favorite authors. *****

Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble: I appreciate that novels need to start with action ,but this book jumped in so quickly that I had no idea who the characters were and I didn't really care what they were doing. Couple that with a predictable plot, and I found it hard to keep reading. **1/2

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: A fictionalized account of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, Ernest's first wife. Engaging. Not action packed or mysterious, but so captivating that it was hard to put down. A very entertaining read. ***1/2

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