Fire Sermon

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

Not to my liking at all. Frankly, I can't see anyone loving it.
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It is common for people to want what they cannot have and to lose interest in something once they get it. Maggie, the narrator in Jamie Quatro’s Fire Sermon is one of those people. Her mom tells the story of her begging for a necklace for a year, only to wear it twice and give it away once she gets it. So, she’s one of those. Unfortunately for her husband Thomas, she is like that with people, too.

Which has her in conversation with some unidentified interlocutor, probably her therapist, maybe a priest, to confess her infidelity and undying love and desire for James with whom she has fallen in love with through correspondence. This interlocutor reminds us of all the other men she has fallen...

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Despite having a relatively successful life, Maggie Ellman can't shake the feeling that something significant is missing from her life. Her life - and faith - is turned upside down when she becomes entangled in an affair. Torn between her religious morals of right and wrong, the letters/emails between her and her lover reveal a human being that's easy to connect with. Fire Sermon was poetic, with a lyrical writing style that I personally loved, but there also times when I was overwhelmed with information that seemed to serve no purpose to the story.

Overall, a beautiful short read that exposes the power of human needs.
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The first quarter of the book describes Maggie and Thomas' marriage, the ups and downs and their family life.  I enjoyed this part, and I felt sympathy for Maggie who had rushed into marriage and motherhood without developing a sense of self.

Then things got quite frankly weird.  Maggie had/did not have an affair - her Christian faith stopped her going the whole hog.  The rest of the book it taken up with letters that may or may not have been sent, ruminations on God and Christian faith, and an awful lot of naval gazing.

One of those books that made me feel intellectually inadequate. Not for me.
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infidelity and faith, this novella examines the two as less a 'dark night of the soul' and more along the lines of how the latter can exist in light of the former.
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I am leaving this unrated. The author has I know intellectually done something unique. Combining guilt, infidelity, marriage and children, while struggling with Christian values. But I can't connect to these characters, so well written but alas not for me. Thank you for the opportunity to read this, I do appreciate it.
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Maggie thinks that twenty-three years of marriage should mean something, but looking back on her life, all she can think is how she and her husband have always struggled to connect on a spiritual level. Her husband has never shared her faith. Enter James, a brilliant poet who Maggie hits it off with from the start. Their long-distance correspondence turns into something deeper, more meaningful than Maggie could ever imagine.

FIRE SERMON is as much about the intimacy of spiritual connection as it is about the intimacy of sex. Maggie and her husband struggle to connect on the spiritual level that Maggie feels is so important, so their sex life is in shambles. But the faith that Maggie and...

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Forty-five year old Maggie Ellman has been married for twenty-three years, has two college aged children, and continually feels that something is missing in her life. She attended Princeton for her doctorate in comparative literature. She lost interest and so studied a field that was an intersection between poetry and theology. She then changed to eschatology and again lost interest. Upon moving to Nashville, she started another doctoral program at Vanderbilt.

She tries to reconcile her guilt and strong religious beliefs with her actions and desires. The more she tries to analyze, the more confused she gets and the two opposites become fused together.

We try to put all this together to...

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This title was rather kindly sent to me by the publishers, Grove/Atlantic. This review has also been published to GoodReads, LinkedIn, and my social media accounts.

The review:

Fire Sermon is not a love story. It is not a tale of adultery, or a novel about lust or passion. It is a novel about Love, its nature and many expressions, and a woman's desperate longing for that all-encompassing love and for beauty, and for a coherent and cohesive life.

Maggie, an academic doing research in Theology, was brought up within a traditional, closed-mind evangelical church. Her religion, her faith and its teaching are of paramount importance for her, expressed not just in the principles for a...

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Fire Sermon is an intense look at a woman's struggle to fit within her definition of a faithful wife and a person of faith.
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Many books focus on romantic affairs, but it takes something special to shed new light on this common subject. Two of my all-time favourite novels that explore the dynamics of an affair are Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” and Anne Enright’s “The Forgotten Waltz” which both feel so searingly honest in portraying the complicated emotions of all three of the people involved. Jamie Quatro’s “Fire Sermon” adds an entirely new dynamic charting the trajectory of an affair over her protagonist Maggie’s lifetime. Shifting back and forth through time, the story recounts the beginning of her marriage to Thomas, the intense moment when she and poet James decide to go to a hotel together and the...

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Buddha’s Ādittapariyāya Sutta or Fire Sermon Discourse is the third discourse delivered after his enlightenment. In the text, Buddha preaches about achieving liberation from suffering through detachment from the five senses and mind. After reading Jamie Quatro’s debut novel Fire Sermon, the inner anguish experienced by Quatro’s main character Maggie, suddenly becomes clear.

Buddha described in the Fire Sermons that every aspect of life experiences are known as “burning,” explaining that it applies to “pleasant and unpleasant phenomena alike.” It’s evident that Quatro uses the Fire Sermon teachings to ignite Maggie’s own confusions and emotional dilemmas. Specifically when she starts...

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ormally speaking, this book is great. Instead of having a linear narration of the married life and affair of Maggie, Quatro emulates the complexity and messiness of life through a text going back and forth between past and present, sometimes through straigthtforward narrative chapters, sometimes through email exchanges, or dialogues with an unidentified person. The result makes for an attractive reading experience, one that renews interest in the theme as old as world of the middle-aged affair in a less-than-perfect marriage.
However, in the end, I was left with the nagging impression that Maggie's willingness to suffer her husband's abusive approach to sex for the sake of their...

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2.5, rounded up. Like a guilty paramour leaving an unsatisfying relationship, I almost want to apologize to this book, saying " Honestly, it's not you - it's me"! But then again, if I had only felt any connection to this tale of the unrelieved religious guilt caused by a momentary affair, told from the point of view of a married female poet/academic ... but I didn't, so I have to feel the author's lack of extracting universal truths from these specifics bears some responsibility for my lack of enthusiasm.

Clearly the author has a way with words - certain sections are rendered in lovely, lyrical prose - but then, others get so bogged down in uninteresting...

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It was different than I expected from other reviews. I expected more narrative, but it felt closer to a woven stream-of-consciousness. I expected a conclusion, but found questions. And the prose was lovely and the feelings true, so I much preferred the reality to the expectation.
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Maggie and Thomas have been married for years, raised a family, and now are in middle age. Maggie has strayed from her marriage and now tries to reconcile her religious beliefs with what she feels.

This story is not just non-linear, it jumps from from action to Maggie's pondering on religion without any notice. We go back and forth from past to present, slowly learning how Maggie arrived at this place in her life.

There were a couple things I found problematic with this novel. The style did nothing for me in terms of furthering the story. The main issue I had though was not with the style; the problem was the characters. I could not connect to them at all, which made it difficult...

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I would not recommend this book to anyone. It is non-sensical ramblings on sex and God without enough punctuation or chapters, flippng back and forth in time with little to no warning making it difficult to figure out what year you were in. I could not find anything I liked.
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He was her first partner and is supposed to be her last. Meggie and Thomas have been married for more than 20 years, raised to nice children and, if looked at from the outside, a perfect life. When Meggie discovers the poet James and writes to him because he seems to be the one who can express what she, too, feels, she sets in motion a chain of events. Months of e-mails, James and Maggie get closer and closer on an emotional basis. Then they finally meet and the faithful believer Maggie and -especially her body – reacts in a way she has never believed to be possible. It is a short encounter, and a second, not even a real affair, but a bond has been created which threatens their lives as...

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This sounded like it would be an intriguing book and I have a few friends I know would enjoy it; but the constant back and forth in time plus the angst about how they 'shouldn't be doing it' made for tedious reading for me.  I didn't find the characters especially likable and it all seemed so repetitive.  The writing was beautiful in some places, though, so the author shows promise.
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