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24 May 2010

Book Review: Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup

Title: Marriage and Other Acts of Charity
Author: Kate Braestrup
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Publication Date: January 13, 2010
Hardcover: 224 pages
ISBN: 978-0316031912
Genre: Autobiography/Biography/Memoir


From the Publisher:

In her award-winning memoir Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup won the hearts of readers across the country with her deeply moving and deftly humorous stories of faith, hope and family. Now, with her inimitable voice and generous spirit, she turns her attention to the subjects of love and commitment in MARRIAGE AND OTHER ACTS OF CHARITY. As a minister, Kate Braestrup regularly performs weddings. She has also, at 44, been married twice and widowed once, and accordingly has much to say about life after the ceremony. From helping a newlywed couple make amends after their first fight to preparing herself for her second marriage, Braestrup offers her insights and experiences on what it truly means to share your life with someone, from the first kiss to the last straw, for better or for worse. Part memoir, part observation of modern marriage, and part meditation on the roles of God and love in our everyday lives, MARRIAGE AND OTHER ACTS OF CHARITY is a unique and unforgettable look into why, and how, we love each other, and proves yet again why Kate Braestrup's writing is "inspirational in the best sense" (New York Daily News).

My Review:

Marriage, mother-adult child relationships, parenting and friendship are a few touchstones in Kate Braestrup's memoir Marriage and Other Acts of Charity. As a minister, Kate has the pleasure to meet with a lot of couples prior to marriage and has learned a lot about love and marriage over the years. According to Kate her desire to minister and her knowledge of marriage stemmed from her first marriage. Drew and Kate loved each other and yet had difficulty communicating their frustrations and fears with one another, which is not uncommon and they were wise enough to seek out counseling. His job as a police officer placed a heavy strain on both of them, causing misplaced anger. During counseling sessions Kate claimed everything was Drew's fault while all her actions were accounted for. What she was not admitting was her love for her husband and the fact she was terrified he would die on the job, instead hiding these fears in anger. Fortunately Kate and Drew managed to change their marriage around before he was killed. Marriage and Other Acts of Kindness is a memoir of her marriage, the good and not so good times, interspersed with relevant quotes ranging from philosophers to the Bible. Kate's memoir does not end with the death of her husband Drew, rather in a way it is a new beginning as Kate becomes an ordained minister and chooses to write openly about the issues that arose after the wedding. Kate gives clear examples of behaviours and when they are good and not so good. Anger for example can come in handy when protecting our young, and unhealthy when misplaced, such as screaming at a loved one because the library closed before they could get there. Kate speaks lovingly of her four children, family, friends and her ministry. While Kate is indeed an ordained minister, her book, Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, is neither preachy nor over the top, but rather an honest, down to earth and witty memoir about the trying times and the joys that came from those times in Kate's life, which she seamlessly weaves into modern day examples of the gospels. One example would be the Valedictorian speech her friend's son made denouncing his family and declaring his true family was Pink Floyd. Kate speaks of her personal life, her marriages, being a widower and returning to the dating scene. Marriage and Other Acts of Charity is a well written and beautiful memoir gently reminding the reader not to take life too seriously or for granted. I found the memoir to be beautiful, uplifting and filled with life lessons and guidance. I would highly recommend Marriage and Other Acts of Charity to any reader, especially those considering marriage

About the Author:

Braestrup's novel Onion was published by Viking in 1990, and she has since published a series of magazine articles in Mademoiselle, Ms., City Paper, Hope and Law and Order. She lives in Maine.

I received a complimentary copy of Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup from Hachette. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.



Mary said...

I liked this - I listened to the audiobook read by the author.

bermudaonion said...

I just loved this book - it just made me feel so good. Your review is great too! I'll add it to the RA Books Challenge blog.