“Fire Sermon” by Jamie Quatro #BookReview

Georgia Kostopoulou

Maggie and Thomas have been married for twenty or so years. They met each other at the University and they are together ever since. Maggie is a scholar and she wanted to get a PhD but she put family first and her career on hold in order to raise their two children. She is happy being a wife and a mother and she loves the family that God gave her. Because her belief in God is strong. She was  brought up in an evangelical family and she has a very good relationship with God. So she wants to be true to her faith and therefore she always confesses her sins, even if she does that through a direct discussion with God.

Thomas is also very happy with their marriage. As a matter of fact he never stopped loving Maggie and he never stopped wanting her and at some point he even became a bit pushy on the sex issue, given that Maggie is not always open to it. As time passes by, Maggie is not sure why she doesn’t want to have sex with Thomas any more, but she surely starts to miss all she could have lived if she hadn’t gotten married to the first and only person she ever slept with.

After the children have grown up and they are off to college, Maggie has already resumed her teaching career. At some point she begins corresponding with a poet, James. At first this is str4ictly professional and their discussion is around literature and their common interest in theological writing. But as the time goes by, their interpersonal relationship and communication changes in to something less formal and more like friendship. The start meeting at conventions and after some time, their friendship becomes more. And then, all of a sudden, guilt has taken over them both and they avoid each other. Maggie tries to make amends with herself and God for her infidelity. She cannot recognize herself. The feelings she has for James are so strong that take her by surprise. Is she willing to throw her life and family away? Would God forgive her for breaking her vow to love and honor her husband till death do they part?

The book is narrated by Maggie’s point of view so we get to see fragments of past and present. We follow all her inner struggle with her self and her conversations to God and even those to some other person, who I understand is a therapist of some kind. It clearly depicts how much one can regret such a significant choice they made so early in their life, as getting married to their first love and having sex only with one person in their whole life. The religious part is also very strong and very well given here, as well as the guilt one would feel if they even think they betrayed their faith.

Jamie Quatro has a beautiful writing style. It is what I call literary fiction, which made it so much easier to read this book, even though I was not a fan of the story or the main character itself. I was so against most of Maggie’s decisions and was constantly at a “What where you thinking?” mode, but since it was portrayed in that specific language, it was more than bearable. One thing that really put me off was Thomas’s line of thinking when it came to sex. I did not appreciate the sex scenes in this book at all. Some were even disturbing as it felt more like rape than sex. It was definitely not “making love”.

I received a complimentary ecopy from the publisher via NetGalley. The views expressed are my personal and honest opinion.

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