It’s 1972 in the Bible-belt South. Andie Oliver dreams of marrying her high school sweetheart and raising their children in a white picket house. These simple, ordinary dreams run into complications. Her fiancé, Joe, cannot afford the white picket house and his spare time gets donated completely to his church and his pastor, Calvin Artury. Not getting the picket fence, Andie turns her thoughts toward children only to discover that Joe no longer wants them, that his pastor does not want them to have children.
As Calvin builds his church into a televangelist mega-church, Andie becomes slowly aware of the dark side of his empire. Calvin does not hesitate to break the law in his quest to build an empire. Andie faces the realities of a troubled marriage, poverty, family secrets, and disappointed hopes without the interference of the church. With the church’s interference, all of her problems get escalated to horrific proportions as Calvin does anything to try to maintain his hold on her. This tale follows Andie through the decades as she grows from teenager to middle-aged woman.
Clearly Televenge by Pamela King Cable contains religious aspects; after all, it centers on the relationship between one woman and her childhood pastor. This book does not “bash” Christianity, but it does echo the very public scandals faced by so many of the televangelists. It’s also not Christian fiction, but it does contain a strong element of Christianity throughout the book. Religion, God, scripture and belief are discussed on nearly every page. Readers who are sensitive to these topics may want to avoid this book. I tend to avoid books with overtly religious tomes; however, the megachurch has so many cult elements, that I found myself more fascinated by how a belief could get twisted than bothered by the religious elements.
As I read the first chapter of Televenge, I could not like Andie. That character and I are nearly complete opposites and I found it difficult to get comfortable in her head. Yet, I rapidly became hooked on the book. By the third chapter, I had become engrossed in the tale itself and come to care about the characters. Each person has their strengths and weaknesses, making them powerful participants as the tale progresses through the years. The story stayed with me, causing my thoughts to drift back to it often in the days after finishing the final page. I came away with a great respect for Ms. Cable as an author.
The ending had problems. An unnecessary subplot got introduced after the book’s climax and never got resolved. Since it was not the type of subplot that leads one to expect a sequel, I found myself wondering what Ms. Cable intended to do with it, what purpose it was supposed to serve. I also found the shift from the gritty, horrid reality of the majority of the book shifting to the fairytale-like finale disconcerting.
My final thoughts: I am glad I read Televenge, but doubt I will re-read it. I recommend it to readers who feel comfortable with the religious aspects.