The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

By Beth Moore

4,270 ratings - 3.96* vote

Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had finally drunk himself to death. It's not like they were close. She hadn't seen him--or her grandmother, the ice queen--in almost 20 years. But when Adella Atwater, the manager of her grandmother's apartment house, called and said Jillian's expenses would be paid if she'd fly in Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had

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Book details

Hardcover, 480 pages
September 20th 2016 by Tyndale House Publishers

(first published September 2016)

Original Title
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus
ISBN
1496416473 (ISBN13: 9781496416476)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Judie Britt

Having done every Bible study Beth Moore has ever written, I knew I loved her nonfiction. I had no idea what to expect from a fiction novel. She has not disappointed.The story is wrapped around a murder mystery plot, but goes so much deeper. Into relationships, family dynamics, introspection. At the same time serious and funny, dark and light, and above all inspirational.I only have one question. Beth, when does the sequel come out?

Celeste

Full review now posted!

Rating: 3.5 stars, rounded up.

I went into this novel with a bit of hesitation. I’ve read many of Beth Moore’s Bible studies and been touched and illuminated them over the years. This book is Beth’s first attempt at writing fiction. I’ve always loved her writing style, which is full of character and makes reading non-fiction more fun. But I can only imagine how difficult transitioning from writing Bible studies to writing fiction must be, and to keep yourself from sounding preachy when you’re so used to, well, preaching.

However, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised! The writing was engaging and funny, even if the plot was fairly dark. Knowing some of Beth’s story, that darkness was expected. As was the light and humor that permeated the darkness. I could feel her straining not to be preachy as she wrote, though there were a few places where that preachiness peeked through just a touch. But for the most part, Beth did a wonderful job of balancing her own opinions with those of her characters.

And those characters were so much fun! The tenants of Saint Sans are a motley crew with loads of personality. While the main character, Jillian, grated on me during the first half of the book, I understood the purpose. You can’t witness the growth of a character if they have no need to grow. Jillian definitely had that room, but thankfully she did indeed grow throughout the novel. The characters went through some terrible things, though they made a valiant effort to laugh in the face of adversity. I thought this was a beautiful quote about the pain of losing a loved one:

“The pain of a hard good-bye is the heart’s tribute to the privilege to love.”

Probably my favorite aspect of this book besides the humor was the setting. I love books set in my home state, and New Orleans is undoubtedly the cultural center of Louisiana. I have a soft spot for Southern novels that actually sound and feel quintessentially Southern throughout, and this one did. Beth is most definitely a Southern Belle, and that mix of sass and sweetness that are the defining characteristics of Southern ladies.

And she genuinely loves Jesus, which shines through in the last half of the novel. I thought that the growth of the spiritual element of the book felt natural, which isn’t always the case in Christian fiction. I love Jesus with all of my heart, but even I sometimes feel that Christian novels are heavy-handed when it comes to the faith aspect. Then there are others that don’t even really mention God at all, and I can’t see how they differ from novels outside of the Christian fiction genre. I thought this was well balanced.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. There were slow parts, and it occasionally felt just the slightest bit preachy. But even in that, I could feel her desire to communicate the love of Jesus that has radically altered her life, so that preachiness never reached heavy-handed or offensive levels. If Beth decides to write more fiction, I look forward to seeing how her writing changes and grow in this new genre. I’ll leave you with they words with which Beth closed her acknowledgements at the end of the book:

“Jesus loves us. He is not scandalized by our failures. He is not limited in what he can do with what’s left after family disasters. Nothing is beyond his redemption when he is invited in. No one with a whit of breath left is beyond the reach of his grace.”

For more of my reviews, as well as my own fiction and thoughts on life, check out my blog, Celestial Musings.

Andrea Cox

By Andrea Renee Cox

I was so excited that Beth Moore was releasing her first novel, but it never occurred to me that it would feature such worldly things as tarot cards, an abortion, multiple pregnancies out of wedlock, and using the Lord's name in vain. That last one (at the very least) is inexcusable, especially coming from one of the leaders on the evangelical circuit today.

I was really hopeful about this story, but unfortunately I'm closing its cover with a large case of disappointment.


Note: Before you comment, please bear in mind that this review is my honest opinion after having read the book in its entirety. If your opinion is different than mine, I respectfully ask that you leave your review on the book rather than in the comment section of my review. Thank you.

Gail Welborn

***"Beth Moore's premier debut fiction has all the ingredients of a bestselling mystery!"***

Bestselling inspirational author, Beth Moore steps into the field of fiction September 20 with an exciting, character-based, mystery release that is sure to keep you up late. Beth Moore's "The Undoing of Saint Silvanus" includes a southern murder mystery, a mysterious church turned apartment house named “Saint Sans,’" an odd assortment of tenants and a complex family who struggle with faith and broken relationships.

The story opens with Sergeant Cal DaCosta's arrival at a New Orleans crime scene where he throws his car into park and mutters, "Sheesh. Eighty-four degrees and barely daylight. That body's going to be ripe."

Thus begins an unusual Christian-based murder mystery that swirls around a young woman named Jillian Slater who lives in San Francisco when she's told her father drank himself to death.
Jillian hasn't seen her father in 20 years. So when the manager of her grandmother's apartment house, who Jillian calls the “ice queen,” says her grandmother will pay all expenses if she returns to New Orleans for her father’s funeral, she accepts.

Jillian couldn't know that was a lie. She also couldn't know a mysterious murder and spiritual and personal danger waited for her in New Orleans. “The Undoing of Saint Silvanus” is a murder mystery wrapped in secrets, broken relationships and unexplained events that will soon challenge everything Jillian believes in.

Beth Moore's well-crafted debut into the mystery fiction genre has all the ingredients of an engaging run-away bestseller and does not disappoint. The author hopes the book will connect with readers and "inspire a conversation about the role of faith in extreme brokenness" and I suspect it will. A definite 5 out of 5 star read!

'The Undoing of Saint Silvanus,' by Beth Moore, Tyndale House Publishers, Hardcover, September 20, 2016, 480 Pages, 978-1496416476, $24.99

Midwest Book Reviews: "Gail's Bookshelf" August 2016
Pinterest: GailWelborn
Twitter: @GailWelborn
FaceBook: Gail Welborn





Katie

3.5 Stars

I'm not sure how to rate this book. It started really slow, really slow. But then I got into it and the pace picked up and pieces fell together. And then it resolved, with about a hundred pages left. And I slugged through those last 100 pages. It might have worked better as a dualogy, or it needed some trimming down. Overall, I enjoyed it. The characters had some great lines, but It was way too long.

Victoria Lynn

I. JUST. CAN'T. EVEN. . .
If you could compare a book to a work of art, this novel would be honored with the comparisons to such greats as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

If I could rate this with more than five stars, I would give it ten. It was just so amazing! I didn't want to leave the pages and I wept when I realized that I had finished it.

Beth Moore nailed EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER. Adella, with her mischievous, talkative and hilarious nature. Olive who is cold, bitter and heartbroken. Jillian who is defensive, unloved and broken. Every time I turned a page I was excited for more. I laughed harder than I have ever laughed over a book. I have cried harder and my heart ached with joy and sorrow at times. My heart beat fast and adrenaline pumped when danger was near. This book was a stunning work of fiction. I had to read late into the night because the book was due at the library, but I wished I could have had it last forever. I even cried over the acknowledgements for crying out loud. At one point in the middle of the book, I simply laid my head down on top of the pages and cried. I want to tell everyone what was so great about it, but I don't want to give anything away. When I first got it from the library, I was like "shoot, did I get the large print version?" because it was so huge. But no, I didn't, it just happens to be a very long book. But it could have even been longer and I wouldn't have complained.

Beth Moore's words on the back could not have been more appropriate. "I hope you feel welcomed through the doors of Saint Sans. I hope you can picture yourself in an apartment down these halls." I did feel exactly that way. I didn't want to let go of any of my friends at Saint Sans, or even Saint Sans itself.

And then in the end of the note from the author: (I sobbed while reading this.) "Jesus loves us. He is not scandalized by our failures. He is not limited in what he can do whit what's left after family disasters. Nothing is beyond his redemption when he is invited in. No one with a whit of breath left is beyond the reach of his grace. My prayer is that his relentless love for you reverberated from the rooftop of Saint Sans and land securely in your soul." Your prayers have been answered Mrs. Moore. God bless you, my heart will never be the same again.

Recommended for ages 18 and up for mature life circumstances of the characters.

Staci

This debut novel by non-fiction writer Beth Moore was deep and dark.

Jillian Slater lives in San Francisco near her mom, who is more like a friend than a mom and with her boyfriend, who is more like a controller. She learned her estranged father is deceased and flies to New Orleans at the request of her grandmother.

Jillian's growth within the pages was incredibly realistic. The reader can easily see how Jillian lived a disconnected and superficial life in San Francisco and could struggle with the close knit, warm and loving people of New Orleans.

Along with Jillian's personal and spiritual growth, there was a mystery to solve involving the murder of her father.

This novel isn't a quick or light read and for that reason the reader needs to be in the right book mood for this debut. It was a well written novel and one I recommend. I look forward to learning if Beth Moore will continue to write Fiction.

Carol

This is an exceptional mystery you will not believe it. It is one of the mysteries that grab you by the throat straight from the first pages. You pick it up and you find that you haven't taken a breath until you realize hey you better breathe.. You pick this book because of the author you continue reading because it is fantastic. It is about Jillian whose father has died and she goes to New Orleans for the funeral where she finds out that he was murdered. She goes to his house which was a converted church which has a curse hiding in the darkness and only GOD can bring it out to light - and his tenants, each with their own story, and her Grandmother(who isn't so grand), all know something. and the only way to find out You have got to read this book to find out what happens - you will not believe it.

Debbi DuBose

Wow! Beth Moore can write A REALLY FANTASTIC NOVEL! ! This isn't a preachy novel for those of you that are scared away by that. This is about a 25 year old girl who leaves San Francisco to go to her Grandmother's boarding house. Olivia Fontaine's boarding house is called St Sans by the residents : elderly Mrs Winsee, Caryn a medical student, and David a chorale high school teacher. When Jillian arrives she finds that her Father, whom she hasn't seen since she was a young child, has been murdered. He lived on the streets, and was an alcoholic. Jillian stays with Adelle, St Sans household organizer and housekeeper, when she arrives in New Orleans. Adelle is the most delightful character in this book, I just loved her. She is also the only one who can talk any sense into Olivia. Olivia's had a tough life and it's hardened her just like her granddaughter's heart has been toughened by her own life, too. Jillian is just starting to feel welcomed at St Sans when strange occurrences begin to happen there. On Halloween night, her dead Father's pocket knife appears on their front porch along with a very large man. The same squad of police come to the house each time and they become friends with the people at St Sans. Then Jillian disappears...... She didn't leave New Orleans, so what has happened to her? You must read this book! I am truly impressed with how wonderfully drawn out her characters are! This a wonderful and fast-paced read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Kate Campos

Beth Moore is a huge name in Christian non fiction, specifically to women's ministry, so there was immediate name recognition when I received this book for review. Her first fictional work was an ambitious endeavor (to say the least) but as a whole missed the mark of a novel worth recommending, in my personal opinion.

She is a true storyteller but that becomes her Achilles heel in the written novel. As a result of the all the tangential musings on things like a sandwich or an air conditioner, for the first 200 pages I repeatedly had the feeling "Where in the world is this going?" and in a 460-some page book, that's awfully late in the game to hit your stride. It reads like a first draft with a disjointed plot, inconsistent characters, and a style that reads in a spoken cadence, which unfortunately had a jumbled effect for me. I wish it had been pared down in edits to truly feature those glowing moments she did have sprinkled throughout the book.

Glad I read it, sad not to recommend it.

*I received a copy for review from the publisher through Booklist.

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