Ms. King's first-person account of Dean's awakening to her true sense of
self is a gradual awareness that is both heartwarming and emotionally charged. Sometimes Ben's ill treatment of his wife and the cattiness of his parishioners may seem too lacking in empathy to be true to life. But many a reader who has experienced similar happenings will recognize the situational reality in Ben's church and home.

After 20 years of being a Methodist minister's wife, Dean Lynch and her husband Reverend Ben Lynch are assigned to a church in Crystal Springs, Florida. As this is an upward move for Ben, a handsome and charismatic leader, he expects Dean to play her role as the consummate minister's wife. Ben never lets Dean forget that she "bettered" herself by marrying him, as she was orphaned from her drunken "white trash" family.

As Ben attempts to lure the wealthy Augusta Holderfield back into the flock of the United Methodist Church, Dean and Augusta become fast friends. The adventurous Augusta leads Dean on a few crazy escapades, the least of which is visiting fortune-teller Gypsy Celeste.

When Ben and the other pious members of his church gather to try to force Celeste to close up shop, he and Dean begin to drift apart. Through Augusta, Dean begins to discover her own identity and come out from under the thumb of her domineering husband.

(Sep., 400 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick