The Artisan's Wife {A Book Review} - Reading List

The Artisan's Wife {A Book Review}

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Artisan's Wife

Judith Miller

Historical Fiction is one of those genres that I have a love/hate relationship with.  When I was a young teenager I would read historical fiction so fast it was ridiculous. It helped that my grandmother was a fan of reading, and loved to discuss the history that these particular books gave. So we could spend our time discussing books - it was marvelous.

And then I got pulled into different genres, but now and again I find myself being pulled toward a historical fiction mostly in hopes of getting back some of that personal nostalgia. So my expectations for these books are often extremely high. It is a hard standard to reach.

The Artisan's Wife by Judith Miller a review on Reading List

Story Overview 

Ainslee McKay finds herself taking over a new family business after being snubbed by her twin sister, her best friend.  The hurt is deep, and the anger fuels her decision to try to run the new family tile business.  However, her stubbornness leads to a mistake that forces her to rely on the help of another. Of course, Ms McKay is not used to relying on strangers for help, and the experience is eye opening, on many levels. 

Levi Judson is a creative man, who is forced to leave the job he loves just as he was able to combine his love of art and his talent at tile making.  As he finds himself in a new town, looking for work, and keeping a secret, he quickly realizes some secrets are meant to be shared. 

Of course Levi ends up being hired by Ainslee right before her mistake, and the two are pushed together by circumstances.  Fate (aka Judith Miller) is all too kind in how he keeps Ainslee and Levi's life intertwined as they learn the need for healing through forgiveness for completely different reasons. 

While this is officially the third book in Miller's Refined by Love series, the reader does not need to have read the other books in the series.  Each book tells it's own story, so do not feel like you need to start at the beginning if this book calls to you.  Of course if you enjoy it, you will have a couple more books you can turn to next!

Personal Likes

It was fun to have a woman who showed both demure feminine behavior that was expected for the time period, while throwing in the role as business manager. While I am sure this is not accurate for the times, it made for a few fun scenes near the beginning of the book while Ainslee is starting to take over the tile works.  

I also appreciated Miller's approach to the asylum in this book.  While she says in her end comments, that asylums ended up being a tragic place for so many, their original purpose and intent was to help. This book takes a look at the system when it was starting and working as hoped before the need for more money and space lead it on the downward spiral that is the center of so many stories. 

The Artisan's Wife by Judith Miller  a Review on Reading List

Personal Dislikes

I seem to be having this issue a bit recently, but this book just did not connect with me.  I didn't fall in love with any of the characters.  I wasn't rooting for Ainslee and Levi's relationship, I wasn't heart broken with the disaster that surrounds Levi's brother, I wasn't nervous over the tile-work's contracts... I was just lukewarm to the whole thing.

Also, and this could be why I didn't connect to the love story, in an attempt to keep this a clean romance, the bulk of the relationship seemed to evolve in the character's minds. Not even while they were with each other, trying to figure out how they felt, but alone, separate. And then out of no where they were in love.  At least for me, that is how it read.

And one more point, because this is partly why so many seem reluctant to pick up Christian historical fiction, at least I've been told from a quite a few...:There are some wonderful scenes in this book where Ainslee realizes the need of each part of the body, the human body, in order to complete even the most simple daily tasks.  It was easy, as a reader, to take the obvious step to correlate to need of the church body.  But the point was hammered too hard, when one page later, another character spelled out the correlation as if the reader were a child and needed it explained.  While I realize that this point could have been placed in this book because of need to help those who are not familiar with the Bible, the vast majority of the readers picking up Christian historical fiction are already, at least to a small extent, familiar with the major points of the Bible.  There needs to be some points that are not beat so hard in that we become defensive over it.

Reading List Rating

I can only give this book three hearts.  I simply was not drawn into it like I had hoped. As I mentioned above, I have high expectations for these books, and it can be a hard standard to reach. I will not be reading this one again, but I do know some who would enjoy it. So it's not a horrible read, just not for me.

My Suggested Audience

I would recommend this one to those who are fans of the Christian Historical Fiction. It is a small niche, but for those who are fans, this will most likely, be a hit.  That being said, I am not sure it will appeal to many.  The focus on prayer is heavy, which can turn off some historical fiction fans (of course it shouldn't... but let's be honest here) and as well as the need to keep the romantic elements completely clean which resulted in some very slow sections of the book (clean both in violence and relationships).  As far as ages, it's a completely clean book, so I wouldn't fear a young teenager picking this one up.  Be aware that part of the plot includes mentally handicapped as well the institutionalizing of women by their husbands (all historically accurate). While this is not to be seen as a demonizing action in way, I know there are some that avoid such parts of literature (if you are concerned, shoot me a message, and I'll try to be more clear).

Goodreads Review

The Artisan's Wife (Refined by Love #3)The Artisan's Wife by Judith McCoy Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I expected something more from these characters. It just was too by the book for a Christian historical fiction.

The attraction between Ainslee and Levi was slow and then suddenly they were flirting mostly in their thoughts which did not translate well to me. And the subplots often overshadowed the main plot. Overall this was just a so-so read.

Although, I can tell how this could be a popular book for the genre. Christian historical fiction, with a light romance, is popular. And if that is the genre you are looking at, that you enjoy, then this will certainly fit that perfectly. Know that prayer and leaning into God during the bumps of life is the goal of these characters. As well as a major focus on seeking forgiveness and giving forgiveness. If you are a casual reader of the genre, know that God, Christianity, and prayer are heavy in this book - this is not a bad thing or a good thing, but be forewarned if you are leery of it.

I just wish there would have been more speed to the pacing of this book, it is slow, steady, but slow. And for this season of life, it was just not enough to pull me away and engage me as much as I would have hoped. In a different season, this could have gotten a better reaction from me - I guess that is why there are so many options in fiction, no?

~~I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review - all opinions are my own.~~

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Wondering Questions to Consider

At what point do we, as people, as Christians, need to seek help in giving physical care to our relatives?  How easy is it for you to seek forgiveness of family members? To ask for it?  Overall, the need of giving and receiving forgiveness plays a huge role in this book, especially when it comes to family members.  How is it that so often those closest to us are the ones that hurt us most deeply, and then we selfishly refuse to forgive?

the real achievement is learning to live a full life even when scars remain... #TheArtisansWife @Reading_List1

What are your thoughts on adult historical fiction romances? Should they be completely clean, without even alluding to flirtations past basic courting? (And no I am not saying this needs to be a discussion about the crazy over the top details that so many contemporary romances go...)

I'd love to hear from you, please leave me a little note!

Marissa @ Reading List

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**** Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, BethanyHouse. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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