Friday, January 23, 2009

Lying on Sunday by Sharon K. Souza

Today I'm excited to feature Sharon K. Souza's second novel: Lying on Sunday.


Here's the back cover copy:

After learning that her husband died of a heart attack--in another woman's bed--Abbie is faced with a choice: She can give in to despair, or she can create a new life. Abbie does both.

As she searches for healing, Abbie fights to protect her daughters from her husband's infidelity. Then a shocking revelation threatens to undo everything she's accomplished. Will the power of the truth really set Abbie free, or is forgiveness too far out of reach?

Wow, huh?

Here's my review:

Sharon drew me right into this story and never let up. This is a chunky novel, both for length, but also themes: betrayal, grief, family dynamics, self-esteem, secrets and truth. And it’s well worth the time invested. Indeed, I could barely put it down. Like her first novel ("Every Good and Perfect Gift"), Sharon wasn't timid about tackling some tough issues.

Sharon created a very complex character, Abigail Torrington, gave her a scumbucket husband, killed him, then let us explore her myriad emotions after the fact. Those emotions were only heightened by the fact that divorce papers arrived within an hour after she learned her secret-toting husband was dead. You spend most of the book wondering if Trey (Robert A. Torrington, III) was truly the scalawag you guess he is. For the sake of hope, though, in the midst of the rest of chaos, Sharon weaved together threads of truth: the relationship truths between the leading characters, and truths about the Lord, and injected those bits at various well-calculated moments.

What I loved best about the novel was how Abbie grew as a person. Without becoming unlikable, Abbie learned how to stand up for herself and speak the truth, even when those around her wouldn’t like what she had to say. In her newfound victory, she took on the arch nemesis of all “push-overs” and prevailed!! (Read the book to see what I mean.) I cheered and read the end of that scene again!

Though Sharon tackled some tough topics, I was entertained but not burdened. I cheered for this great heroine and pondered some fantastic prose and insightful phrases every now and then. I highly recommend this sophomore offering of Sharon’s and look forward to her next novel!

Here's an interview:

1 In your previous novel, Every Good & Perfect Gift, you address the tough issues of infertility and catastrophic illness. Again, in Lying on Sunday, you've tackled a tough subject, that being infidelity. Why do you choose such tough topics?

I like to write stories that speak to women on deep and personal levels. None of us gets through this life without being affected in some form by sadness, loss, a sense of failure over one issue or another, and having been failed. I think when we know we're not the only one going through these types of situation--and it's so easy to feel that you are alone--it gives us hope that we really can come through, not necessarily unscathed, but certainly stronger and more equipped to help others.

2. Do heavy topics equal a heavy reading experience?

Definitely not. I firmly believe that pleasure reading should first and foremost be entertaining. Time is a precious commodity. I hope that readers who choose to spend some of their precious hours in the pages of my books will thoroughly enjoy the experience.

So even though I tackle tough subjects, I infuse enough humor to keep those subjects from becoming an albatross around the reader's neck. Conversely, I love to read for pleasure, but I want to take something away from the experience.

3. What would you have readers take away from Lying on Sunday?

In one day, Abbie Torrington has the underpinnings of her world knocked out from under her. Everything she thinks she knows about her marriage turns out to be false. It leaves her reeling in the aftermath. Years ago, while dealing with health issues in my own life, a close friend gave me a Precious Moments figurine entitled "Light at the End of the Tunnel." In Lying on Sunday I want to show that even with issues as devastating as betrayal there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and for me that Light, of course, is Jesus.

4. Lying on Sunday deals with the betrayal of infidelity, but are there other forms of betrayal that the book might speak to?

Types of betrayal obviously vary, but the end results can be equally devastating. Any time a trust is broken between people in relationship, someone is going to be hurt. We can either allow those hurts to hinder us, or we can allow the Lord to use them as lessons to make us better and stronger. That brings to mind the old adage "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger." Well, through her own devastating experience Abbie becomes a stronger, more independent person than she knew she could be.

5. Once again you've written a story with a strong and vital friendship that's central to the story. Was that coincidence or by design?

Absolutely by design. I'm all about relationships and so are my characters. Having gone through a period in my early adulthood without a close friend, I know how important friends are in our lives. In fact, I've recently reconnected with two friends from high school, one I hadn't seen in 25 years, and the other in over 30 years. But relationships between women, while vital, can be very complex. That's certainly true for Abbie. Besides her close friendship with Shawlie Bryson, she has a close relationship with one daughter and a challenging relationship with the other, mostly because of the very different emotional place these girls are in while dealing with the death of their father. Not only that, but Abbie has a strained relationship with her own mother for reasons she eventually discovers. I'm certain that women of each one of these generations will relate to one or the other of these characters, especially the woman caught in the middle, where she's both the daughter and the mother.

6. Truth is a theme you deal with extensively in Lying on Sunday. In a book that deals with betrayal, wouldn't forgiveness be a more fitting theme?

I believe forgiveness is the key to getting beyond the kind of hurt Abbie experiences - which doesn't necessarily equate to restored relationship. (In Abbie's case, of course, that's impossible anyway.) But the discovery of truth is a huge first step in the process. In any difficult situation we can choose to ignore the facts and try to keep life on an even keel. But there inevitably comes a day of reckoning. For Abbie to arrive at the desired destination, there are some unpleasant truths she must acknowledge and deal with. She's dogged by a scripture from John 8:32 that says the truth will set you free. Only she can decide whether or not she'll let it.

7. What is the most satisfying thing that comes out of your writing?

I love hearing from readers, especially those I don't know, who say my stories have touched them in one way or another, and most importantly, have helped them see more clearly how good and loving our Lord is.

8. What are you working on now, and does it continue in the style of Lying on Sunday and Every Good & Perfect Gift?

My work in progress, Unraveled, is another contemporary novel about a young woman who gives a year of her life to help teach children in Moldova, a small country in eastern Europe. While there she experiences a crisis of faith (the story ultimately deals with human trafficking). And yes, it continues in the style of my previous novels.

9. Is there anything you'd like to add?

Naturally I love to hear from readers. You can email me through my website: http://www.sharonksouza.com. If you're in a book club and choose to read any of my books I'll send a complimentary book to the person who contacts me on behalf of their group. Then, after you read the book I'd love to participate in your group discussion, either by phone or in person if you're close enough for me to drive to.

Thank you, Sharon, for sharing your writing with us and this behind the scenes peek. All the best!


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