The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow
Joyce Magnin, . . Abingdon, $13.99 (398pp) ISBN 978-1-4267-0164-1
Quirk abounds in this tale of two sisters, Agnes and Griselda Sparrow. The titular Agnes forswears leaving home when she tips the scale at 600 pounds, and stays put and prays. When what seem to be miracles—healings from serious illnesses—occur, the residents of the small Pennsylvania town of Bright’s Pond naturally attribute them to Agnes. Agnes’s putative power attracts a stranger in need of an unstated miracle, and the plot thickens from there. To pull off such a quirky novel, the characters need to be vividly etched, the writing consistently clever and the plotting persuasive on its own terms. Magnin partly succeeds: she meets the clever quotient, but on the whole the book is uneven. Some of the explanations that account for characters’ decisions aren’t persuasive; some dark plot twists threaten to overwhelm the quirkiness; and the pacing of the first half of the book is slow. Still, Magnin will please those who like their faith fiction with a twist, even if not everything served at the town’s Full Moon Cafe can be swallowed.
Reviewed on: 07/06/2009