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The Sunday Wife
By Cassandra King
Hyperion, 2002
Hardcover $23.95 (389pp)
ISBN: 0-7868-6905-4

 

 
 

Cassandra King's The Sunday Wife is a pleasure. In the tradition of Fannie Flagg and Lois Battles, the author has written a memorable novel about the intrigues of small town life in the deep south. 

Dean Lynch, the wife of a Methodist minister, chaffs at her role as a "Sunday Wife." As the daughter of itinerant blue-grass musicians who enjoyed drinking, Dean's "white trash" background has never suited her ambitious husband. When The Reverend Dr. Benjamin Lynch is assigned to a larger and more prosperous congregation in the Florida panhandle, his demands upon his wife "to fit in" become almost unbearable for Dean. Upon meeting the welcoming committee from the church, she realizes all the promises he's made won't be kept. 

As she's done before, Dean turns to her dulcimer (her only heirloom, passed down from her grandmother), for comfort and salvation. To Ben's horror, Dean rather than himself, intrigues Maddox, Augusta, and young Gus Holderfield, the town's most prestigious and prosperous citizens. Dean and Augusta become the best friends neither has ever had. Like matches and gasoline, the combination is combustible. The two of them befriend fortune-teller Celeste who's attempting to start a small gift shop horrifying the ladies of the church and local business leaders. 

Augusta, sensing Dean's need for an identity outside of her marriage, becomes her manager, encouraging her to expand her musical repertoire. To Ben's chagrin, his wife is a great sensation at social events. While their arguments escalate privately, his role as spiritual leader keeps forcing them into roles they can't seem to escape or change. 

The Sunday Wife is a charming account of one woman's journey away from society's expectations. 

Author Cassandra King acknowledges drawing upon personal experiences while writing the novel. She was reared in a small southern town where the church was "a vital part of her family life." Ironically, King too, was a "Sunday wife," and she came to realize ".... Dean Lynch is not just a preacher's wife; she's the corporate wife, the politician's wife .... she's any woman struggling as I did to live up to an unattainable idea." 

Cassandra King's first novel Making Waves in Zion was published by Black Belt Press in the fall of 1995. She's taught writing seminars, worked as a human-interest reporter, and published an article on cooking in Cooking Light Magazine. A native of L.A. (Lower Alabama), she now makes her home in South Carolina with her husband, Pat Conroy.

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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