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Spider in a Tree by Susan Stinson
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Spider in a Tree (2013)

by Susan Stinson

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Showing 4 of 4
In the interest of full disclosure, this is not the type of fiction I usually read; I generally prefer genre fiction, especially SFF.

Still- the past is a different world! and this novel definitely made that clear, and often in interesting ways.

However- to me it mapped as more "literary fiction" than a novel, since it didn't finish as much as just...stop. In media res. Nothing really got resolved, in any of the potential plot threads.

OK, this is true to life. Generally we do not have plot threads in our lives. Things happen, and then other things happen.

But- that is why fiction can be so satisfying! It DOES have a plot, and a plot arc, and an ending that ties up at least some loose threads- andf this book did not do that.

As a fan of historical fiction, this seemed very well-researched, although not in ways I was much interested in. I wish there had been more focus on the mores, the clothing, the housekeeping, etc. I believe this was well before stoves with ovens- HOW did they bake bread? No reference either to wood-fired ovens nor bake shops. Particularly since this was in many ways more an account of daily life then and there, the lack of data about the practical aspects was frustrating.

The bug motif seemed arbitrary, and only occasionally present.

I think the aspect that this book lacked the most, though, was immediacy. Tell rather than show? or maybe it was the sheer number of POVs. Leah was pretty sympathetic, and oddly Joseph- though I found the sympathetic depiction at odds with his fairly sleazy choices. Most of the rest were ciphers.

I do not remember why I bought this book; it was probably recommended somewhere. I did not find it a satisfying read. ( )
  cissa | May 28, 2016 |
Full disclosure: Susan Stinson is a friend. I truly enjoyed this book, which gives a glimpse into daily life and spiritual life in Northampton, MA, a city I know well in the modern day. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Full disclosure: Susan Stinson is a friend. I truly enjoyed this book, which gives a glimpse into daily life and spiritual life in Northampton, MA, a city I know well in the modern day. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Full disclosure: Susan Stinson is a friend. I truly enjoyed this book, which gives a glimpse into daily life and spiritual life in Northampton, MA, a city I know well in the modern day. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 161873069X, Paperback)

"Stinson reads the natural world as well as Scripture, searching for meaning. But instead of the portents of an angry god, what she finds there is something numinous, complicated, and radiantly human."—Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home

"Through an ardent faith in the written word Susan Stinson is a novelist who translates a mundane world into the most poetic of possibilities."—Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones

"Wonderfully fuses the historic and the imaginative."—Kenneth Minkema, executive director, Jonathan Edwards Center

Jonathan Edwards is considered America's most brilliant theologian. He was also a slave owner. This is the story of the years he spent preaching in eighteenth century Northampton, Massachusetts.

In his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Edwards compared a person dangling a spider over a hearth to God holding a sinner over the fires of hell. Here, spiders and insects preach back. No voice drowns out all others: Leah, a young West African woman enslaved in the Edwards household; Edwards's young cousins Joseph and Elisha, whose father kills himself in fear for his soul; and Sarah, Edwards's wife, who is visited by ecstasy. Ordinary grace, human failings, and extraordinary convictions combine in unexpected ways to animate this New England tale.

Susan Stinson is the author of three novels and a collection of poetry and lyric essays and was awarded the Lambda Literary Foundation's Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. Writer in Residence at Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts, she is also an editor and writing coach.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:08 -0400)

"In his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Jonathan Edwards compared a person dangling a spider over a hearth to God holding a sinner over the fires of hell. Here, spiders and insects preach back. No voice drowns out all others: Leah, a young West African woman enslaved in the Edwards household; Edwards's young cousins Joseph and Elisha, whose father kills himself in fear for his soul; and Sarah, Edwards' wife, who is visited by ecstasy. Ordinary grace, human failings, and extraordinary convictions combine in unexpected ways to animate this New England tale"--… (more)

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