Sunday, April 8, 2012

“The Bossy Bridegroom” – Serious Christian Fiction -- Granted New Life as eBook!

"The Bossy Bridegroom"-- Serious Literature that Provides 5-Star Reading Enjoyment to Many – But Not to All!

Publisher: Barbour Books (December 10, 2008)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services (Kindle April, 2012)

I classify,  “The Bossy Bridegroom”, as literature because it has a universal and timeless theme. It also addresses the human condition and is structured to be read on several different levels. There’s the narrative/ostensive level, the Christian/religious level and the psychological/philosophical level.

“The Bossy Bridegroom” is not a genre romance and it does not have a traditional romantic HEA – 'happily ever after' ending. In fact, the ending that I fully expected to happen -- and which I would not have liked to have seen happen (on a work this serious) -– did not in fact happen. I was surprised. The reader cannot rely on genre expectations to predict the ending of this book.

The Mark Twain Problem

I once compared Mary Connealy’s writing to Mark Twain's in that there are many similarities in their work. Below is a part of that review:

“Mary Connealy reminds me a lot of Mark Twain. Like Twain, Connealy is a prolific writer, she writes with an insightful sense of humor, she often uses children to demonstrate the foibles of adults, her books can be read by adults and children alike, her stories show a keen understanding of what it is like to be a child, plus the time periods and locations are very similar. To top it off, both Twain and Connealy like to write the occasional mystery.”

Now, in addition to the above similarities, Mary Connealy has done something else like Mark Twain. She has written a very serious book. Mark Twain was highly intellectual and he wrote about everything. Whenever Twain would come out with a serious book his Tom Sawyer, Pudd'nhead Wilson, and Connecticut Yankee, fans would be furious with him! “Don’t spend your time writing these serious books. Write the humorous satire books that we love so much.”

Not For Everybody

“The Bossy Bridegroom” is an important book. The reader who only wants to read a lighthearted, happily-ever-after, romance, may not enjoy reading this book – unless she would also enjoy a deeply serious novel.

People who enjoy serious literature that requires them to think and people who can read a book on several different levels and enjoy the experience may well enjoy reading "The Bossy Bridegroom".  I believe that reading this review will provide enough information for a reader to decide if “The Bossy Bridegroom” is for them.

On the ‘Narrative/Ostensive’ Level

"The Bossy Bridegroom” is a story about a wife who was verbally abused to the point that her marriage fell apart. Her inability to cope with the result of this caused her to put her baby daughter up for adoption. She moved to a new location to rebuild her life. She then finds Christ, becomes a Christian, develops many friends and devotes her life to serving others in various chaitable pursuits. Since she will volunteer to help anyone who asks, an outsider would seem to be justified in thinking that others were taking advantage of her kind but fragile nature. 

A few years, after the breakup, her husband also comes to Christ and becomes a Christian. He wants to make amends. He wants to be the father and husband he belives a good Christian should become. He also seeks foreginess for his past transgressions.

The conflict is this: should an abused wife give an abuser, like her husband, (they never divorced) a second chance?

Some readers will say 'NO', 'never'! Such men never change. The wife would be a fool to take him back and subject herself to more abuse. Some readers will also find the wife distasteful for putting up with the abuse for so long in the first place. These readers will not be able to read this book with an open mind or enjoy reading it. As such they should definetly not read the book.

"The Bossy Bridegroom" is about the attempt at reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption. It is not a genre romance with the typical HEA.

Important Disclosure: No woman is physically battered in this book. No woman is even overtly verbally abused in the telling of this story. (The wife was verbally abused a few years before the story opens. )

On the Christian/Religious Level

“The Bossy Bridegroom” is not an easy, 'goodie-two-shoes', Christian romance in which the two parties find Christ, offer forgiveness and are thereby magically redeemed into a new life of happiness.

This is not easy or superficial Christianity. Most of the Christians in the story warn the wife not to have anything to do with her husband. Men like that don’t change even if they do find Christ! Her sister is the biggest objector.

On the most important level, this book asks these questions: “Do you take Christian teachings seriously? Do you act as a Christian even when it is risky and can be painful? More specifically: "do you really take your marriage vows seriously? Is it really 'until death do we part’ or is it only ‘until divorce do we part’? Even deeper: "should you trust God enough to dare living a genuine Christian life?"

The husband and wife in this book are honestly trying to apply their Christian beliefs. They are trying to ‘walk the walk’ and they are risking the pain and disillusionment a failure could produce. These are brave people. They should not be stereotyped as weak, evil, or pathetic.

Essential to the success of the story at this Christian/religious level is the advice and counseling of the pastor. The pastor does not give cliché Christian advice. He knows that reconciliation is probably not going to work. He gives the wife an inflatable baseball bat to smack the husband at any point he becomes verbally abusive. He also gives her his cell phone number to call at any time, day or night, so he can come and drive the husband away if it becomes necessary.

The wife is not hesitant in using the bat on her husband. In fact, he can be wacked for just thinking about saying something abusive. This is Biblical in a way. 

“The Bossy Bridegroom” is a powerful example of Christian principles being employed when the stakes are at the highest levels. This is very meaningful Christian fiction. It would be hard to think of a better, more thought-provoking, book for a Christian discussion group.

On the Psychological/Philosophical level

On this level, it makes no difference that “The Bossy Bridegroom” is about spousal abuse, verbal or otherwise. The book could just as well be dealing with alcoholism, gambling, drug abuse or serial adultery. This shows the universal and timeless nature of this story.

The questions here are different. “Do people really change or do they just modify their outward behavior?” “What is really going on in these abusive situations?"  "What do both parties get out of it – that is, if they stay together?” “Does Christian conversion change a person in reality or is it like turning a sixty minute timer to the sixty minute mark?" If you don’t want the arrow to revert back to zero, must you forever keep turning the indicator back to sixty?” A philosopher would ask this: "Is the story logically sound or has it been compromised to meet the needs of the plot?”

Philosophers can be very hard on a book that has a contrived plot.

All the above questions that I’ve asked are dealt with in the book. "The Bossy Bridegroom" does not doge difficult issues.

"Do people change with Christian conversion?"

 The husband and wife in the book changed but there was always a constant pull to revert back to type. In this case both the husband and wife had abusive fathers. Abuse was the norm in their families. This makes permanent change in their relationship very difficult.

"Why do people stay in a relationship like this?" I think pop-psychology might suggest that the wife is just a pathetic ‘dish-rag’ who is too wimpy to stand up for herself. “The Bossy Bridegroom” is not pop-psychology. What you see in the book is the dynamics of a real relationship. The abusive situation is like scratching an itch. At first it brings relief and is pleasurable. However, the scratching soon becomes painful. An open wound can result thus allowing an infection to poison the whole body.

The wife likes the pleasurable part and has to fight the temptation of falling victim to its temptation. The husband likes the power he enjoys but also wants and prays that his wife will fight back…will help him by standing up for herself. This is not just because of his Christian beliefs. Psychologically the husband has grown to love and respect his 'new' wife -- much more now that she has become more independent. He now sees her as more beautiful than when she once wore more makeup just to please him.

At this point in the story the husband views his wife as someone of great value – if only she would use her ‘bat’ quicker and more often. The husband is trying to change but it is as if the force of gravity keeps pulling him back to type. He needs the help of his wife -- just as she needs his help to keep the relationship on track. This is not easy. It takes constant effort. And it takes more than prayers.

"Does the story have logical integrity?" Absolutely. I didn’t think it would. I thought the 'pull' of a happy romantic ending, on a romance writer, would overcome the logical ending dictated by the course of events. It didn’t. "The Bossy Bridegroom" has the ending events needed it to have.

“The Bossy Bridegroom” – Life on a Knife edge – A Total Thriller!

This is one of the most thrilling, or more accurately, nerve wracking, books I’ve read in a long time. The deeper the reader gets into the book and the more she develops an understanding of the characters, the more intense the reading experience becomes. At every point in the narrative the entire enterprise could fail. The situation is so tightly balanced that any unwanted nudge from any direction will lead to destruction. Any misstep by the husband, wife, outside person, or even an unrelated event could tip this delicate balance and the struggling relationship will be killed.

A Serious Book Deserves a Serious Reader

I think by now you'll know whether you want to read “The Bossy Bridegroom” or not. I loved the book. I gave it my highest recommendation. However, I must say: it does not have the most apropos title, cover art, or publisher. To be fair, if I were the publisher, I would not want to let a book this good go to another house. However, I’d perfer to see a title like, “Surviving the Battle”, and artwork that suggests a more mainstream novel dealing with emotional stress.

“The Bossy Bridegroom” – 5-Star, Highest Recommendation, Serious Christian Fiction!


  1. I have read this book. I thought it was very good. I could relate in a lot of ways to the wife because my husband can be very controlling at times. I do feel like the Lord has truly helped him work through some of his issues, but it has been very difficult. This book really hit close to home!

    It did make me appreciate the changes that our marriage has had. I am thankful to the Lord for His grace and healing.
    God Bless,
    Kim in NC

  2. Have to say Vince, after reading your bio, that we have a lot in common. I lived in Germany and Italy. My father was in the Army, we were in Vicenza in Italy. I love languages. Especially Italian and was a Latin teacher before my 5 babies came along.
    I also love Mary Conneallys' books.
    Kim in NC

  3. i would love to read this book,

  4. Hi Kim:

    I just saw this comment. Sorry I’m late answering it. I hope you see it. I used to love going to Vincenza. They had a great post exchange. They also had an A&W rootbeer stand outside the base which was a real joy as there was little else of America in Italy at the time. 1964. I didn’t like Latin in high school but when I went to Italy I fell in love with Roman history. I went back to college and loved Latin. Got A’s. Also took a teaching minor in history. I love Mary’s books, too. She has learned her craft and has a great sense of humor. She can do many things. I think she has a lot more surprises to come. Thanks for your comment. Vince

  5. Hi Shirley:

    The good news is, I believe Mary is always going to keep this book ‘in print’ as an eBook. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks for your comment. Vince