Review of An Unpresentable Glory

About the Book:

An Unpresentable Glory, a Christian , contemporary, literary fiction.

An Unpresentable Glory, a Christian, contemporary, literary fiction.

Book: An Unpresentable Glory

Author: Eleanor K. Gustafson

Genre: Christian, contemporary, literary fiction

Release Date: July 2018

“I trusted you, and some day, you may know just how much you hold in your hands.”

Linda Jensen leads a relatively quiet life in Westchester County, New York, as the owner of a highly acclaimed garden. Inherited from her parents, the garden is her pride and joy. It is not so joyful finding a strange man sprawled near her delphiniums! The mysterious man is sick, unable to do anything more than drink water—and beg for secrecy. Ignoring all alarm bells, Linda sees to his needs, but her caring act takes on unexpected significance, and unpresentable glory.

Seeds of trust, and perhaps love, are planted in Linda’s garden haven. But as secrets are revealed and scandal hits the headlines, the act of caring for this man threatens to tarnish both of their reputations. Like weeds in Linda’s garden, circumstances threaten to choke out their fledgling relationship, and small moments prove to be the biggest influencers—on a national scale.

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About the Author

Ellie grew up in Branchville NJ, in a county with more cows than people. She attended Wheaton College in Illinois as a music major, then married a pastor/college professor/tree farmer/organist and writer. Together, they have three children and eight grandchildren.

Music was Ellie’s first love until she tried on the cloak of writing and found it a comfortable fit. However, early writing attempts saw friends—and even her mother—advising her to stick to music as a career. She pushed manfully along, though, and An Unpresentable Glory is her sixth novel.

“God first touched me through story,” Ellie says, “and made the bigger Story come alive. I love Him passionately!”

More from Ellie

What’s An Unpresentable Glory about? Here’s Linda’s point of view: Linda Jensen, a noted gardener, finds a stranger sprawled near her delphiniums, obviously ill. She gets him into her house and puts him to bed, deciding that water is the only safe thing to give him. Water in, however, must come out. He is helpless; she must serve him; but in doing this unpresentable task, she feels the presence of angels. [See the book Preface for my personal experience with this.]

Jay’s point of view: Jay finds himself ill and helpless on the lawn of a wealthy but caring gardener. He can’t even reveal his real name. When he leaves at week’s end, he sees the relationship as hopeless because of who he is and enormous repercussions if the hidden week comes to light. Tragedy and disaster haunt him, but a dual set of mentors leads him through churning waters. Will he ever get back to the garden?

* * *

Linda’s sun tea was “mostly Darjeeling with lemon and a sprig of mint.” After reading her description, I tried it and found it tasty, indeed!

An Unpresentable Glory blog tour

To celebrate her tour, Ellie is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Butpee Flower gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the button below to enter. 

Lila’s Opinions:

How do I review this unique book? I wasn’t sure even how to rate it.

I really appreciated the quality of writing and editing, which deserves 5 stars! However, I don't think I agree with the author's main premise. Is this enough to deserve a star decrease? I guess. This is why I gave it only 4 stars.

This is definitely not a book for those of us who just want a light romance to escape with. This book is for those who want to think hard, to be challenged in their beliefs, and to not escape from our current world but be confronted with several of its gritty issues.

Without spoilers, this will be hard. The very first scene (which contained some pretty unbelievable behaviors to me) introduced us to the two main characters in this unique romance. The author notes in the preface that this is not a romance in the technical sense but a love story especially focusing on God's love for us. I was surprised that the author also didn't follow the convention of focusing on both equally, or the woman predominantly. She focused almost the entire book on the man, Jay, with only a few glimpses into Linda's life to keep us wondering if they were ever going to get together.

This is a book where the plot's climax shows us that we've been thinking about everything wrong, and our perceptions must be completely overthrown. I guessed the first plot twist, was not surprised by the second, but was completely bewildered by the third one.

Without spoilers, I'll use the example of Nicholas Cage's 2007 movie, Next. I hated that movie because the very end showed that half of the movie never even happened. Though An Unpresentable Glory is not quite that dramatic, it still leaves the reader wondering what was really true. Unfortunately, it left me wondering who was really responsible for the happy ending. I had assumed it was God all along; once the twists were revealed, I wasn't so sure. And that's why I'm disappointed in the spiritual aspect of this Christian story.

I was also surprised about which minor issues the author chose to focus on—politics of Democrat vs. Republican, Native American sensitivity, terrorism, and gardening. And I'm not sure I agree with the author on the first two, though I can't say for certain that I'm against her stance on either. But I felt that these issues would have been best left to nonfiction that could address questions from both sides, as I felt that both of them were quite one-sided.

I was also uncomfortable with how far the “unpresentable” theme was carried out. There were several mentions of sex (though always either within the confines of marriage—though an unhappy one—or definitely the lust for sex outside of marriage seen as sinful). This is usually enough to pass most Christians' reading standards. But not mine. I could have handled that alone, maybe, but then the mentions of toilet needs (although admittedly without graphic details) and the weird ceremony at the very end of the resolution put it over the line for me.

I think what concerns me most, however, is that the entire premise of this book was based one word in 1 Corinthians 12:23 (quoted by the author from the NIV translation before the first chapter), a word that in the original Greek was only used here in the entire New Testament. Because of its ambiguity, it can have a wide range of connotations, from “shapeless” to “unseemly” or even “indecent.” To create an entire doctrine around one word is dangerous. Surely to create an entire fictional world around one could be just as dangerous.

Again, though, I do want to reiterate how wonderful the writing was, and how professional the editing and formatting were. My favorite quote, though completely irrelevant to the story and not indicative of the general mood, was the first time I actually noticed the subtle poetry of the author's descriptions: “They moved to the cramped kitchen for coffee and snack, trying not to step on Kevin's tabby cat that viewed this forest of legs as feline heaven.” :)

(I received this book for free. The decision to write a review, as well as the opinions expressed in it, are all my own. I was not compensated for this review.)