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Church Folk Book Review

Phyllis Rhodes

Church Folk takes the reader to the Deep South, Mississippi 1963, where the young Reverend Theophilus Simmons has just landed his first appointment as pastor of Greater Hope Baptist Church. Although haunted by a past indiscretion with a fellow parishioner, Theophilus is determined to walk a straight and narrow path.  He breaks an unwritten convention by courting and marrying the down-to-earth, rib-joint cook, Essie Lee.  The remainder of the novel deals with their journey as first couple in the local troubled church, regional church politics, and the maturation of their relationship as a Christian couple. 

Although this is a work of fiction, Bowen has crafted a plot which exposes issues that have historically plagued the clergy and are still prevalent in todays headlines: greed, sexual misconduct, and secular politics among other indiscretions.  Because of this, the author has chosen to include a number of sexual situations and references between characters that may disinterest some church folk.  She justifies her choice for doing so within the novel through the voice of the central character but this reader found that it could be viewed as inappropriate for some younger readers.

The book is an enjoyable story (albeit a little slow at times) that is sprinkled with Christian morals.  The cast is diverse, colorful, funny, and full of life.  I am sure that some readers may notice some of the same characteristics in their fellow churchgoers.  The take-away is this is a very easy read that almost anyone can enjoy.

Nubian Circle Rating:  3 Stars