Treasure is found in the most unlikely places.
The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon--and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life.
Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying.
Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God's presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?
Initially, I had a hard time getting into this novel. At first, I couldn't get past the names of "Saphora" and "Bender." Really. Their uptight names mirrored their uptight personalities. Bender, a successful plastic surgeon was arrogant, flashy with his money and not obliged in keeping his marriage vows. Saphora, the dutiful wife, kept a smile on her face while keeping up with a wealthy lifestyle. We meet her during a photo shoot for Southern Living Magazine at her home. Saphora seemed to trade her dignity for the life of ease. There comes a time when enough is enough. After being confronted with smiles and kindness from one of Bender's mistresses, Saphora packed her bags and planned to leave her husband, escaping to their vacation home in coastal North Carolina. But Bender's uncharacteristic early arrival home thwarts Saphora's escape. And what he tells her turns her life upside down--he has cancer.
The beginning of the story seemed cold and clinical. Yet as I kept reading, I started to see warmth emerge. I'm not sure if it was the author's writing style or that I became so engrossed with the characters that as their hearts softened, I began to warm up to them.
The couple decided to spend time together at their vacation home amongst the comings and goings of their children, their grandchildren and a special neighbor boy. Through this time of Bender's treatment, and removal from their pretentious life, the couple explores their relationship, and as death becomes a reality, regrets are expressed. We see Saphora become more independent and sure of herself, a long way from the silent, dutiful wife we first met.
This is a Christian fiction novel where the couple is not Christian. It is not until the reality of death closes around does Bender consider the possibility of an afterlife. Hickman uses flawed characters expressing that anyone can come to Christ, no matter their past. This novel is non-preachy and the main focus is not of Christianity, but the characters. It is a nice step away from formalistic Christian novels and a pleasure to see. Unless you're completely turned off by anything Christian, I think anyone who enjoys women's fiction will enjoy this one.
Title: The Pirate Queen
Author: Patricia Hickman
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Source: Blogging for Books