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The Novelist    by Angela Hunt order for
by Angela Hunt
Order:  USA  Can
WestBow, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Jordan Casey Kerrigan is the bestselling author of over twenty spy novels. Think Dirk Pitt combined with James Bond and you have a feel for her main character, Rex Tower. The catch is - most readers think she is a man. Her unisex name (combined with an intense desire for privacy) keeps this illusion alive. When Jordan agrees to teach a community college class on fiction writing, her students are shocked to discover she's a fifty-ish woman writing about a very macho man. One of her students challenges Jordan to write something personal, something less on the surface. Since Jordan has been a Christian for many years and has never put her faith on paper, she accepts the challenge.

Jordan begins writing The Ambassador, an allegory about Christian faith set in a modern-day world. Her initial thoughts are to use the novella as an illustration of the writing process for the class, and also to use the story to reach her troubled son. Twenty-one year old Zack is home after a disastrous two years away at college, marred by DUI convictions and erratic behavior. Zack has never accepted his parents' faith, and they are running out of ideas on how to reach him emotionally and spiritually. As Jordan writes The Ambassador, she explores her own faith as well as trying to help her son, who is spiraling out of control.

This is one of the most original, moving, and thought-provoking books I have read in many months. It is basically two stories in one - that of Jordan and her family, and the story within a story of The Ambassador - the tale of William and other residents of Paradise, a small town headed for trouble. Reading the plot summary above, I realize that it does not begin to convey the depths of this terrific book. These characters wrestle with substantive spiritual and emotional issues, ones familiar to most people. Parents especially will relate to the struggles Jordan and her husband experience while dealing with their wayward son.

The pacing and character development are excellent, as well as the intriguing insights into writing fiction - something the author knows a great deal about. I inhaled this book in one day and was sad to see it end. Although this is a Christian novel, the faith message is not forced on the reader and is actually dealt with in a very unique way. Angela Hunt never fails to provide thought-provoking and highly original stories, and The Novelist is no exception.

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