Michele Phoenix. The Space Between Words. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017.
With the encouragement and prompting of some of the publishers that I regularly read and review, I find myself exploring new authors and storylines that I would not be as likely to discover on my own. While some novels are more successful than others, I always enjoy finding the unexpected in these stories.
In The Space Between Words, Jessica finds herself in the midst of the Paris attacks. As an American in a Parisian hospital, she struggles to grasp the horror of her experience, even as the French medical professionals try to help her understand the situation. Her friend, Patrick, helps her to cope through the early days of her recovery as he encourages her to pursue their planned journey to the southern part of France for an antiquing trip. A chance encounter and an antique box of old documents soon set Jessica on a new journey. Translating the archaic French, Jessica discovers the story of the persecuted Huguenots and their faith-filled community. With the help of new-found friends, she pursues the Huguenot family’s story from France to England, in the hope of discovering the reason for their hope in the face of suffering.
Weaving together the past and present, Ms. Phoenix offers a compelling tale of faith and courage. Her story goes beyond the terror of one day to explore what comes next in her characters’ lives.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Space Between Words. While I am not familiar with Ms. Phoenix’s other works, I found this novel to be surprisingly accessible, with a good writing style and pacing that allows it to be easily read by a wide variety of readers. She also manages to create a depiction of both the Paris attacks and Huguenot persecution that are both horrific and minimally graphic. While I would be unlikely to hand this book to a relatively young reader, I didn’t have to worry too much about having nightmares from it myself, which I much appreciated. The Huguenot/historical part of the story was absolutely fascinating, as was Jessica’s journey to discover more about the family involved in the making of her antique box. With such a strong story of faith included in the historical components of the novel, the contemporary side of the plot felt much weaker in that regard. Particularly, I found the end to have needed a bit more development, even as I was very happy to see such an emphasis on Christian faith included in a novel published by Thomas Nelson (which has not been the case in some of their more recent releases).
Fans of other Christian fiction works that split contemporary and historical timelines will likely enjoy reading The Space Between Words. Additionally, those who have previously enjoyed Ms. Phoenix’s other works will definitely want to read this one, too.
Special thanks to The Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson for the promotional copy of The Space Between Words!
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