Friday, March 17, 2017

Broken Vows by N. O. Carlson -- Bottom Line - It Didn't Jive For Me...

He arrived in Seward, Missouri, population three thousand fifty-seven, in the summer of 1949. A strapping handsome young man fresh from St. Peter's Seminary in St. Louis. He was six feet three inches tall with wide shoulders, a narrow waist, and huge strong hands that clenched into tight fists whenever he felt excited or determined. He had piercing dark blue eyes and a mass of unruly blond hair that flew about as he tossed his head to punctuate a point. He exuded virility and vitality. Fr. Daniel Freeman was twenty-seven years old and was prepared to assume his first parish: St. Francis in Seward, Missouri.

Broken Vows

By N. O. Carlson

His Vow to God is on shaky ground
when a woman steals his heart...

The old slang word "jive" came to me as I was considering how to form my review of this book... I made an assumption that this was the first adult novel written by his author since I could find no reference to his past books, under that name. There are some basic, perhaps informal rules for novels that are sometimes overlooked...

First, the genre is unclear--one place it was listed as historical and another as romantic suspense. After I had read it, neither fit for me. The book is supposedly set in 1949, but the actions of the characters really didn't reflect that period, in my opinion. The main character is a priest, right out of seminary and at his first appointment.... somewhere...

I know this is fiction, but unless it is science fiction, I don't think I've ever read a book that was set in someplace that didn't already exist--unless, of course, the author explains that in the front of the book.  I learned this the hard way, when I read a book that I truly fell in love with; however, the publisher for whom I was working at the time, blasted it for lack of correct details and the research necessary to make the setting plausible. She then explained the basic issues on setting... While it did not change my love for the book, I was fully aware that if an historical book was written, it should reflect...historical settings, characters, and facts, as appropriate to the specific book. My search is, at this time, mostly for complementary pictures based upon the story, but I found none... That was a small matter for me, however, to the real issues that bugged me...

 Ok, many of you may not be able to relate to what I am saying, but since I lived in the time period in which this is supposedly set, I am saying that the events in this book, for the year, 1949, are totally implausible--yes, in my opinion...

The book reads like a contemporary novel... the female lead, for instance, is supposedly the seducer and is quite willing to take Father's hand and press in to her body!


Get Real! Women of my early life were modest, devout, and certainly the strong driving force in the family and religious environment. Sure, there may have been some "hanky-panky" as it was called years ago...but it would have been long sighs, meaningful looks into his eyes--that kind of non-verbal attention that women have always been good at--that is, until the 60s, maybe, when free love started evolving into the overt sexuality of today's world. Furthermore, the actions of the female were much more sexually provocative--the implication being that the good Father just could not resist entering into an affair... I was totally turned off by his reverse role play...


Now I have no problem with the situation itself, between two adult individuals who may become attracted to each other. In fact, it happened to me...maybe I'll write a short story about meeting Declan sometime... But then, that priest was on vacation and not in the garb of the church or it never would have gone as far as it did...which wasn't far, so don't get me wrong... LOL!


Perhaps even more unreal was that the new priest started sharing his own personal beliefs about the churches teachings with his housekeeper. Yes, he was young, inexperienced, but anybody who has faith, again in my opinion, will be very conservative and close-mouthed about more liberal opinions with strangers, even ones that become a friend. Religion was one of those discussions that you just didn't have, because it could lead to arguments realllllly quickly. To share with an individual, who had served four previous priests and her church for decades, that he didn't believe in this or that... well... it just wasn't done in that time period. That was the time period when individual religions were the "only" way... Catholic churches restricted individuals from ever going into other churches and it was unthought of to attend that church if you didn't belong... That was just the intra-church turmoil... Within the church, more liberal thoughts would have been hidden in the individual's heart and prayed about diligently...


I applaud the personality of the young man who did indeed bring success to the church and I enjoyed and respected what he was doing within the parish. He'd had a youth full of adventure and attachments to "loose" women, carefully defined for that time period as those who will provide sex, but would never be considered for marriage material. So I could fully understand his thoughts about never having a wife and family...no matter what time period of the novel.


Actually, the story line would make a great book if better consideration of the genre's setting had been handled. Historical novels just cannot read like a contemporary situation...


Finally, the ending was a total loss for me. What happened was so cruel an ending that I had to feel that there was supposedly a moral to the story...and it was Judgment with a capital J... Actually that was an historically accurate ending because at that time, many were preaching hell fire and damnation. My personal beliefs during that time, kept close to my heart, was that my God of love would not have wanted that ending...but then, I'm only now sharing my own thoughts, in the present for those that I would never have whispered to anybody in the 1950s...

Others have already found this a good book...so I encourage you to read reviews by others. But, for me, I do not recommend Broken Vows...



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