Title: A Gathering of Finches
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher’s Synopsis: Based on historical characters and events, A Gathering of Finches tells the story of a turn-of-the-century Oregon coastal couple and the consequences of their choices, as seen through the eyes of the wife, her sister, and her Indian maid. Along the way, the reader will discover reasons to trust that money and possessions can’t buy happiness or forgiveness, nor permit us to escape the consequences of our choices. The story emphasizes the message that real meaning is found in the relationships we nurture and in living our lives in obedience to God.
Wow. Where do I begin. I didn’t know how I’d like the book when it arrived. It looked interesting, but because of the unusual beginning, I expected to love or hate it. Instead, I developed a love/hate relationship with the main character Cassie. She has all of the spunk and vivacity of an amazing main character, and yet she’s stubborn, irascible, and so very lost– seeking that which will never fulfil her. I found myself wanting to scream at her in nearly every chapter, “You’re making your own misery, woman!”
The most amazing part of this story is that it is a fictionalized true story. Cassie Stearns Simpson was a real woman. This larger-than-life character was real and did many of the very things written about in this book. I found it difficult to read the story and I’ll give away the book if I’m not careful. Suffice it to say, she made many terrible and selfish choices that affected her life until the day she died. Her life was dedicated to “doing her own thing” and without the help or sanction of the Lord.
The author leaves us with the impression that near the end of her life she finally surrendered to the Lord (the book is kind of a fictionalized biography so it starts at the birth of her adulthood and carries you through to her death). I like how the author was careful to leave it as an impression and a hope rather than tell the reader what they might want to hear or leave us with the despair of a life wasted. She balanced Christian hope with probability and left us trusting that the Lord alone knows and He cares far more than we ever could.
It wasn’t an easy read. It wasn’t a happy story, and yet it wasn’t morose. It was real. In this age of an almost insatiable thirst for realness… reality… this book gives it all with a healthy reminder that just because something is real, doesn’t mean it is right.
I never thought I’d read a book that so thoroughly dealt with the topics depicted in this story and not feel sullied or tainted by them, but Mrs. Kirkpatrick managed to do it with a sincerity that only an excellent writer can manage. Five stars on this one. I can’t recommend it enough, however, if you’re looking for fluff… keep on looking.
Giving this book away. I have drawings to do and ship for already so I’m making this one short. You’ve got until 9:00 p.m. PST Sunday so that I can ship everything waiting to go out on Monday.