Home > Genre, historic, romance > Book Review: The Carousel Painter By Judith Miller (ARC)

Book Review: The Carousel Painter By Judith Miller (ARC)

coverthecarouselpainterI was quite excited to be the recipient of my first ARC (Advanced Reading Copy).  I hadn’t realized when I put myself on the list that The Carousel Painter was published by Bethany House, a Christian publishing group.  I actually read a lot of Bethany House books when I was growing up, so I am quite familiar with the genre, but since deconverting from Christianity at 20, let’s just say, Christian fiction isn’t my first reading choice.  However, I’d made a promise to the publisher, so I decided to give it a fair shot.  Not to mention, this would be a great exercise in being a fair critic.

After her father dies, leaving her without family, Carrington Brouwer moves from France to Ohio to stay with her friend Augusta Galloway while looking for work in the late 1800s.  Augusta’s father owns a carousel factory, and Carrie sees an opportunity to put her painting skills to good use.  At the pressure of the women of the family, Mr. Galloway hires her, even though she will be the only woman working in the factory.  Carrie must deal with the prejudices and fears of the men and their wives, as well as of the community, while addressing her own problems with pride and God.  She also must deal with Augusta’s suitor, Tyson, who makes inappropriate moves on her and attempts to pin the theft of Mrs. Galloway’s jewels on her.

Miller possesses writing talent on the sentence level, for sure.  The sentences flow well, and the dialogue is relatively believable.  She shows forward-thinking for her genre by giving Carrie an independent spirit and not condemning it.  At first I was excited that she seemed to be offering a relatively unique storyline to her genre.

However, the addition about half-way through of the plot-line of Carrie being a suspect in the theft of Mrs. Galloway’s jewels is a widely used one.  The good Christian must suffer and have faith her innocence will be proven in the end.  It was incredibly predictable.  Plus it simply felt out of place and jarring given the beginning of the story.

I was also bothered by Carrie’s quirk of giggling when she’s nervous or upset.  It’s such a misogynistic stereotype–the giggling female, and it simply did not fit with the rest of Carrie’s character.

I did appreciate, and I think fans of the genre will too, that Carrie’s faith and God were not the focus of nearly every single the page.  Carrie growing in faith is part of her life and is addressed as such, but it is not the focus of the story.  It’s simply a fact about her that comes up periodically.  I know when I was into Christian lit as a teen, I would often wish they’d just tell me the story for once instead of preaching all the time.  Yet I also know that fans of Christian lit will expect at least a little bit about God in the story.  I think Miller struck this balance well.

Overall, it’s a step in the right direction for the genre, but Miller could have done a much better job writing a believable, unpredictable storyline while pushing the envelope against misogyny.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Source: ARC from publisher via LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers program.

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  1. Libby
    August 1, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Oops…It’s The Carousel Painter, not The Carousel Horse.
    Libby : )

  2. August 2, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Libby–Ahhh! Thanks! Talk about your brain freeze. Duly edited.

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