Book Club Picks: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

So every month  a different member in my book club chooses a book for us to read and discuss the next month.

So the member who’s turn it was, was thinking of possibly doing a mystery. When our group met, she decided on this:

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus: A Novel by Beth Moore

This is Beth Moore’s first novel after years of nonfiction. It was something new but something she had been thinking about doing for a while.

Hmm…

Julia Stillwater is living in San Francisco in an controlling and very bad relationship. But when she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her she is hit hard and unsure of what to do.

Then she receives a call that her long estranged father is dead.

And that her grandmother, the ice queen, who she also hasn’t seen in over twenty years is offering to pay her way to New Orleans so she could attend the funeral.

As her life is currently in shambles, Jillian decides to take it.

However, there is a lot that was kept from her. It turns out that the housekeeper, Adella Atwater, came up with the idea for a family reunion, not her grandmother, Olivia.

This could get ugly.

It also turns out that she lives in an church turned boarding house-full of all kinds of characters. There is David a forty-year old bachelor and music teacher; Carrie a student in medical school and always studying or working; and an elderly dementia suffering woman.

What have I gotten myself into?

With no money, no reason to go back to San Francisco, and not sure what to do…she remains in the house.

Seriously

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Police Department have been looking into the murder of Jillian’s father, Raphael. But while they try to uncover a killer, a lot of other strange things start happening. Baby things are left outside the house, someone tries to break into the house, things go missing, etc. The NOPD spend a lot of time coming to the house trying to figure out what does this all mean? A sentiment shared by the rest of the residents.

Besides that Saint Silvanus holds a secret from its first beginning as a church. Will it be revealed?

Hmm…

Will Jillian ever learn the truth about her fathers death? Will she grow to enjoy living in Saint Silvanus? Will her family rifts be mended? Or torn further apart?

Hmm…

So let’s start with what I didn’t care for or thought wasn’t as finished.

1)First of all Jillian is unsure what to do when she comes across the homeless. She has never had to deal with such things and finds the “sour smells” of the city unbearable.

Come on now. I am from California and have been to San Francisco many times. I have been everywhere from the high price areas to the touristy ones and there are homeless EVERYWHERE. They hide in bushes and jump out to surprise you; walk out into traffic; are on every street corner along with “sour” smells. I don’t know what San Francisco Moore encountered but that sounds nothing like the one in California.

2) What happened with the church?

So throughout the novel, Moore has the story of the church’s beginning and the first pastor intersecting with the story of Jillian. But she never really says why this matters to the characters as they have no connection to each other and they never say who killed the minister. Was it suicide or murder?

3) There are a lot of little details missing.

Hmm…

In my class, The History of the Novel, we read an article about how hard it is for a nonfiction author to switch to fiction as there are a lot of little things they aren’t used to writing about-how they look, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, etc. Moore falls into the same issue as she doesn’t always describe her characters. For instance she calls Julianna “dark”. Dark hair? Dark skin? Mexican? African-American? Greek? Spanish? Italian? Black hair? Brown? Chestnut?

I know it is her first time writing a “novel” so it makes sense there are a few kinks.

4) The mystery isn’t really mysterious

I knew as soon as the character entered the picture. It was extremely obvious the way they acted was not normal

So what was good?

1) The characters

The characters were amazing! I loved every single one and each felt extremely lifelike and ones you would meet in real life.

They all had their own hangups, issues, and backgrounds that were relatable-either to you or reminded you of someone you know. They made the book interesting, a page turner, and had you feel at home in Saint Silvanus.

This in itself made the book worth reading.

For more of my book clubs reads, go to Book Club Picks: At Home in Mitford

For more mysteries, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

So after this book it is my turn to pick the next book. I was going to bring a few choices to the meeting and pulled out a western, as you know I love stuff like that:

I also took out My Fair Godmother as that book cracks me up.

I was trying to think of a third option, when I decided on one book that’s been sticking in my mind:

Yes, my book club is going to read The Darcy Monologues. This will be very interesting as:

  1. One member has read the book and seen the 1940, 1995, and 2005 versions.
  2. One member has only seen the 1995 and 2005 versions, never read the book.
  3. And the other member has not seen any film or read the book.

Will they love it? Will they hate it? I don’t know, but I am sure of one thing:

And we all know what I thought of it:

Read what I think of Part I: The Regency and Part II: Other Eras

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Fulfilling the List: A Walk to Remember (2002)

Romantic Moment #3

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A Walk to Remember (2002)

***Spoiler Alert***

So I am not a big Nicholas Sparks fan;

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I didn’t like Message in a Bottle, oh don’t get me started on that girl!

hate her

I was also not a fan of The Notebook (I totally would have picked James Marsden) and I’ve never been interested in his other works.

I don't think this really added to the story.

I don’t think this really added to the story.

For years people had been trying to get me to watch this movie, and every time I said no.

No thank youhowaboutno

Even though I love the song Hawk Nelson wrote for the movie, I still wouldn’t watch it.

Tempting but no

Tempting but no

Even though I absolutely love Shane West, nope, nope, no.

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But that all changed when my friend kept begging me to watch it. I finally gave in and that was one of my best decisions EVER! I loved the movie.

I love it

I went on to read the book which I also loved. Those two are one of the sweetest things I have seen/read. It is full of so many romantic moments, it was hard choosing just one.

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So the film is about two people, Jamie and Landon. Jamie is one of the popular boys in school, no sorry the popular boy as he is the best looking.

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Shane West, oh man are you good-looking.

swoon dreamy

Sorry, back to the film.

So Landon has been acting up a lot recently, mostly because of his anger at his dad for leaving the family for another woman. He and his friends convince a guy who wants to be a part of their group to do a dive after drinking; causing him to be seriously hurt (while Landon slightly injured); afterwards he gets in trouble and has to do community service/help in the school.

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Enter Jamie. Jamie is the minister’s daughter, good in school, loves astronomy, and of course is picked on for being the preacher’s daughter, smart, for the clothes she wears, etc.-you get the idea.

Sarcasm

Landon ends up spending a lot of time with her as he finds himself  having to tutor alongside her; as well as star opposite her in a play.

Landon finds being in the play out of his comfort zone, and asks Jamie for help. She agrees but on one condition, he can’t fall in love with her.

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Later when Jamie tries to talk to him in front of his friends, he pulls a Danny Zuko and acts like he doesn’t know her. Jamie of course is upset.

How rude

So later when he comes to her for help, wanting them to be “secret friends” to protect his reputation she shuts him down.

You-serious?-Not-happening-babe!

The time for the play comes and Landon, even though he doesn’t want to admit it, misses having Jamie around. When he sees her performing he is just blown away.

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Afterwards, he tries to date her but she still isn’t sure about trusting him. When his friends play a cruel prank on her, he not only defends her against his friends but encourages and supports her.

How romantic

How romantic

They start dating and fall in love. 🙂 But unfortunately, things do not always stay as happy as we hope. It turns out that Jamie didn’t want Landon to fall in love with her because she has cancer, and no earthly treatment can cure it.

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Most Romantic Moment: I Want to Make Your Dreams Come True

So throughout the film, Jamie talks about how she has a list of things she wants to do before she dies. Some are basic and easy, while other much grander. The list is:

  1. Get married in the church where her mother and father were married
  2. See a miracle
  3. Have a star named after her
  4. To be in two places at the same time
  5. Get a tattoo
  6. Befriend someone she doesn’t like
  7. Spend a year in the peace corps
  8. Make a medical discovery

When Landon had to first do the community school service, she checked off number 6; but since then she hasn’t had the chance to do anything else (and as the later reveal of her pending death it looks like she might never cross everything off).

Aw, man.

Aw, man.

But after Landon and Jamie begin dating, he decides that he is going to try to help her check off as many as he possibly can.

He takes her to the state border (#4):

Getting her temporary tattoos (#5) as her dad wouldn’t let her have a real one:

And buying a star, naming it after her (#3):

While all of these are absolutely adorable and really show how Landon has changed and how much he loves her, the best part is when he fulfills #1.

So romantic

So romantic

So as Jamie is dying with very little time left, Landon asks her to marry him.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

I know how romantic is that? He knows how much that means to her, the first thing she ever dreamed of doing was being married in the same church as her mother and father with her father officiating. He knows that out of everything this is her biggest dream, and he helps her fulfill it. What a dream guy!

swoon dreamy

aw

It’s just so romantic how much he loves her! This made me want my own Landon. Why, why, why- are the best guys fictional?

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And to make that moment even more romantic not only did he fulfill her #1 goal, but the other most important on her list; #2

So romantic

So romantic

Such a great film!  I highly recommend it! I watch it over and over.

watch movie over and over

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To start Romance is in the Air from the beginning, go to Boom Box of Love: Say Anything (1989)

For the previous post, go to You’re My Exception: He’s Just NOT That Into You (2009)

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For more on A Walk to Remember, go to Number Two Look Just Like You

For more Nicholas Sparks, go to I Love You Anyway: The Notebook (2004)

For more films based on books, go to Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

On the 9th Day ‘Til Christmas: Borrowed Hearts (1997)

On the 9th day ’til Christmas my blogger gave to me

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Borrowed Hearts (1997)

This movie is one of my all-time favorite romance films. I remember every Valentine’s Day they used to show this on WE or Lifetime, even though it is a Christmas movie. I was in love with Eric McCormack, thought Roma Downey was extremely pretty, and envied the little girl’s room and toys.

So the film is about businessman Sam Field, Eric McCormack, who is trying to negotiate the biggest deal of his life. Javier Del Campo, played by the wonderful Hector Elizondo, is fully prepared to sign the papers after he spends some time with Sam and his family. The only problem is Sam doesn’t have any family. He is a confirmed bachelor and hates the idea of becoming a father or having children. His friend and spokesperson lied to Del Campo, and now Sam is stuck trying to find someone to pretend to be his family.

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Enter Kathleen, Roma Downey,  a single mom who works in Sam’s plant. She has been trying to save up money for a house for her and her rambunctious daughter Zooey. Zooey is a real handful as she doesn’t like to listen and has a habit of running away and climbing trees when she hears something she doesn’t like. Zooey’s dad left a while ago, because he didn’t want to deal with his responsibilities of being a father. However, Zooey is hoping and praying that he comes back. She wishes to have her dad for Christmas along with getting a house just like her dollhouse. I was very jealous of this dollhouse when I was young. I loved it and wanted it sooo badly. She prays that an angel will come down from heaven and make this happen for her and her mom.

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(Sorry for all the random cat pics, it appears the internet is lacking in Borrowed Heart pics. I will try my best though)

So one day as the two are driving and looking at Christmas lights on the big mansions in town, Zooey spots one that looks exactly like her dollhouse.

Sorry its the only pic of the house I could find

Sorry its the only pic of the house I could find

Zooey yells at her mom to stop and runs into the house, claiming that it is hers because she asked the angel for it. Now this kid needs some discipline. She should not think it is okay to run into a stranger’s house.

Mhm great gatsby

Anyways, Sam was just discussing the problem of his “missing family” with his friend Dave. Did Dave think that the perfect people would just walk right through the door? Enter Zooey and Kathleen.

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So Kathleen and Sam strike up a deal for three days of services. To Sam’s dislike Kathleen gives the house a complete make-over adding all these homey touches. She also is given a wardrobe to die for, and Zooey has a room filled with toys. You totally start coveting their stuff.

love it

Javier Del Campo arrives on the scene and whenever he is around Zooey hears music although none is playing. This was something she was told that happens whenever an angel is around. She starts to suspect Del Campo of being more than what he seems.

suspicious

Everything seems to be running just fine. They had a few glitches, but they’ve managed to pass over every one swimmingly. They do run into a problem when Del Campo asks for the story of how they met. As they both haven’t planned out a story, neither wants to say.

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Everyone is saved when Zooey speaks up. She tells a cute story of an angel bringing the two together (*wink, wink foreshadowing). Afterwards everyone is off to bed but Sam and Kathleen realize that they have to share a room or raise Del Campo’s suspicions. They both sleep in Sam’s room, with Sam being sent to the closet, while Kathleen gets the bed. I always thought that was mean as Sam doesn’t even get a real blanket, instead he has to use one of his coats. 😦 This is a scenario that is played out in many films, but all stemming from the film It Happened One Night.

While Sam  was originally seen cold-hearted jerk, we get to see a softer side of him as he is around Kathleen and Zooey. He starts talking to the two and building a meaningful relationship. He and Kathleen start to heat up as a Twister game brings them much closer together.

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Del Campo decides to stay longer, causing the marriage to continue. While things go well not everything is perfect, as Zooey’s lack of discipline causes her to mess up Sam’s office and Sam to lose his temper. While Kathleen hates to hear any criticism, she grabs Zooey and walks out. After a heart-to-heart and two apologies, Sam is able to convince the two to return to his home.

The next day they all go ice-skating and Sam and Zooey have the cutest bonding moment. Sam is afraid he will fall, and Zooey promises that everything will be okay because she is there to catch him.

So sweet!

So sweet!

Afterwards, Zooey skates off and Sam gets hit on by a blonde bimbo. He quickly takes off his glove to show he is a “married man”, but Kathleen is comes over to talk to him and makes him feel very awkward.

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We also learn more about Kathleen’s issues and how she doesn’t trust anyone after what her husband did. Although, it appears some walls seem to be breaking down.

Just as things are getting good again, the bad also rises. Kathleen’s ex comes into to town and threatens to tell Del Campo everything, unless Sam ponies up and pays him. Sam agrees to the blackmail, only if the ex promises not to contact Kathleen or Zooey until after Christmas. Kathleen also finds out that this “great deal” that Sam is trying to do, will cause a lot of employees to lose their jobs. She decides to ambush Sam with a Christmas party at work, having all the employees share how thankful they are to Sam for the job he has given them. The whole party is extremely awkward for Sam.

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However the bonds between Sam and Zooey are growing even stronger. As Zooey tells Sam of her father issues, Sam begins to open up with all the issues he has with his father. He tells her of a time that the two were supposed to play catch, but Sam kept failing to get the ball because his glove was too big. The way his father treats him, just brings tears to your eyes. Sam never felt as if he measured up or was the son his father wanted. He always felt worthless.

aw cry

As things with Zooey are going great, Kathleen and Sam are building a better understanding and growing closer than ever. While Kathleen and him are wrapping presents, they have a moment where they might kiss, but are interrupted by Zooey having a nightmare.

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It is Christmas! And the gift giving brings many precious moments. Del Campo signs the papers as his gift, but Sam declines his signature saying he never does business at Christmas. At first Zooey is sad that her real father isn’t there, but quickly perks up as she gives Sam his gift. Zooey has given Sam a baseball glove. She borrowed one of his regular gloves to make sure it fit perfectly. This scene is so aw-worthy as Sam declares it the nicest gift he was ever given.

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Sam has another aw-worthy moment when Kathleen opens her present from him. It is a set of brushes and paints. Sam got it for her after hearing her old dream of becoming an artist in Paris. Sam encourages her to not give up on the dream, but to keep trying. As the two finish talking, Del Campo makes them aware of the fact that they are under a rather large thing of mistletoe.

I found this a little odd that no one has managed to come under it until this moment? Sounds like the angel made it grow out of the ceiling. After all how many people in that house were expected to fall under it? Anyways the two share their first kiss, both enjoying it.

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Zooey however, is not happy. She is still hoping for the chance that her parents will get back together. Sam realizes this and goes to get her father, bringing him to his home. The ruse falls apart, and Sam explains everything to Del Campo. Del Campo is a little miffed, but concludes that Sam already has his signature and he intends to not fight it. Sam decides to not go through with the merger, sacrificing his “big deal” for Kathleen. Kathleen’s ex-husband leaves, and Zooey becomes heartbroken at being abanded that she runs outside and climbs a tree. However, as these are not her usual trees, the branches don’t support her. They sap under her weight, and she finds herself hanging high up.

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Kathleen and Sam are freaking out. Sam calls up to her and tells her to jump into his arms, that he promises to catch her. Zooey is too scared that he won’t and she’ll fall, that she continues to cling to the tree. Sam echos what she said at the skating rink, promising that he will catch her, that he won’t let her fall. Zooey lets go, and Sam catches her. He holds her and promises that everything will be ok.

The film ends with us knowing for sure Del Campo is an angel, with his wings worn “on the inside” to give the appearance of being a human. Sam, Kathleen, and Zooey are all becoming a family; everything ending happily for all!

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Merry Christmas!

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To start the 12 Posts of Christmas from the beginning, go to On the 12th Day ’til Christmas: The 12 Men of Christmas

To go to the previous post, go to On the 10th Day ’til Christmas: Merry Christmas from the Austen Novels

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For more on pretending to be married, go to Being Friends is Good Enough

For more on two who hate each other falling in love, go to I Don’t Want the Money