Monday, 25 May 2015

Book review - Broken, by Cathy Jackson

Broken is a strange book, full of surprises. From the blurb I had expected a romance with inspirational elements, but this feature was relatively minor - certainly the book does close with the main character being, or claiming to be, 'in love', but there's no development, no inner growth - just a sudden switch from hatred to love that, one could not but feel, had more to do with MC's perception of what each man had to offer her lifestyle than with any deeper feeling.

The biggest surprise the book had in store was the almost comical nastiness of the main character, Evelyn. I think it's the first time I have ever encountered a romance heroine who didn't even attempt to be sympathetic. One often sees ones one can't like - because they are whiny, pathetic, or whatever- but these minor faults don't afflict Evelyn. She is simply bad to the bone; despite regular church attendance, constant praying and a lot of talk about her Christianity, she never lets religious belief get in the way of her convenience. A more thoroughly self-centred, cruel, even vicious character I don't think I have seen since Mrs Norris. She leaves Becky Sharp for dead.

Because of this, the book's real strength is in its exposition of the anatomy of what the Bible calls a 'whited sepulchre' - that is, a person claiming to profess Christianity without for one second letting it get in the way of what he feels like doing. Evelyn is a classic example of this as she prays her way through her days, kicking waitresses and generally damaging everyone with whom she comes in contact. Even poor, sweet Phoenix comes in for plenty of grief as Evelyn constantly ignores her phobia of physical contact and cops a feel at every opportunity.

All through the book, I kept expecting the watershed for Evelyn - the metanoia, the change of heart, but it didn't happen. She did seem to tone down her nastiness a bit at the end of the book, once she had two brothers dangling after her, and right at the end she makes her choice in favour of honesty, but one is left wondering for how long, and what further pain this woman will inflict on the Westerling family.

Broken will release on 30 May, and will be available from AMAZON and SMASHWORDS.

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