Spider in a Tree gets a starred review from Booklist

Tue 15 Oct 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Susan Stinson with portrait of Jonathan Edwards Yale Divinity School photo credit Jeep WheatGreat news for Susan Stinson: Spider in a Tree has just received its fourth trade review and the best was saved for last. Booklist’s starred review goes out today:

“As a Puritan preacher who suspends listeners above the sulfurous fires of hell, Jonathan Edwards commands center stage in this compelling historical novel. With mesmerizing narrative gifts, Stinson exposes readers to the full force of Edwards’ brimstone sermonizing. But she also lets readers hear Edwards’ voice in other registers, giving compassionate reassurance to his troubled wife, extending tender forgiveness to a despairing sinner, reflecting pensively on how God manifests his wisdom in a lowly spider. But the Edwards voice that most readers will find most irresistible is his inner voice, laden with grief at a young daughter’s death, perplexed at his spiritual status as master of a household slave. . . . An impressive chronicle conveying the intense spiritual yearnings that illuminate a colonial world of mud, disease, and fear.”

Kirkus did not love the book. C’est la vie! Publishers Weekly gave it a very strong review and picked it as an Indie Sleeper. And Library Journal also just reviewed the book this week:

“Famous theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) comes to life in this mid-18th-century story of the First Great Awakening, a revivalist movement that swept Protestant Europe and the American Colonies. . . . Weaving together archival letters, historical detail, and fictional twists, Stinson vividly resurrects this emotional historical period prior to the American Revolution.”

The book is flying off the shelves in the Pioneer Valley and now we are seeing it beginning to be picked up regionally and nationally. Yesterday Susan read at the Yale Divinity School (where Edwards studied—check that photo above!) and tonight she is reading at the Stockbridge Library (where Edwards also lived) and with luck she will get either to sit at or take a photo of Edwards’s desk.

The she is off to California—the most open of the events is at MCC-San Francisco before coming back here for readings at Amherst Books, Porter Square (with Kelly!), and KGB Bar and the Book Reading Series in NYC. Busy times!

October 15, 6:30 p.m. Stockbridge Library, Stockbridge, Mass.
October 23, 12 p.m., American Studies, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
October 24, 4 p.m. Religion, Politics, and Globalization Program, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
October 25, 7 p.m. MCC-San Francisco. Reading and reception,150 Eureka Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
October 30, 2 p.m. reading, talk, Q&A, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
November 13, 8 pm. Amherst Books, Amherst, Mass.
November 18, 7 pm. Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass. (with Kelly Link)
November 21, 7 p.m. Drunken Careening Writers series, KGB Bar, NYC (with Holly Hepp-Galvan and John Schuyler Bishop)
December 15, 5 p.m. Bloom Readings, Washington Heights, NYC

Author photo courtesy: Jeep Wheat.


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