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Belief
by Stephanie Johnson

Category: Fiction / Historical
496 pages; ISBN: 0312291108

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

In late nineteenth century New Zealand, William McQuiggan, a victim of child abuse, strikes out at those who love him such as his wife Myra. William finds solace only in alcohol. However, while working in the hated fields, a drunken William sees a vision. He decides to go on a quest in search of God.

William leaves behind his pregnant wife and journeys across the Pacific to Utah where he joins the Mormons. When he concludes that religion as bogus, he tries the Jehovah's Witnesses, but feels that movement is a sham. He next heads to Illinois to join Dr. Alexander Dowie's Zion City utopia before souring on that faction. While on his American adventure, his wife and twin children finally join him and soon more children follow. He becomes further unhinged until he returns home in a last ditch effort to reach God through his own church.

Stephanie Johnson paints a dark work of historical fiction in that there is little hope beyond bleakness even for those who believe in God. The story line is vivid as it describes several locales, the era, and religions with clarity and depth. William is a wonderfully drawn character whose slow descent into a self-made hell makes BELIEF work though readers will tire of the abused Myra traipsing after her man.

Harriet Klausner

 

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