[book review] the painter’s daughter.

Sometimes a single choice can change the course of our lives. As I watched my dear friend get married this weekend, it was easy to remember and see the beauty in a life-altering decision. As I read The Painter’s Daughter this weekend, I was reminded of the cost of other kinds of choices. The first pages of the book set the stage with Sophie deciding whether or not to take the offer of marriage before her, a marriage to a practical stranger that will save her and her unborn child from a life of shame and uncertainty. But this choice isn’t the only pivotal one that is made in the story. There were the choices to be alone with a man in compromising situations, which lead to her current state, alone and pregnant. But there also choices that come to her later, as she is faced with choosing what and who she will fight for.


One thing I loved about the story Julie Klassen told was how she told of a story not just of her characters, but of the choices all of us make. I love what Steve Wiens says in the introduction to his book, Beginnings:

You are not a noun.
You are a verb.
You are endlessly becoming.

That is what I saw in this story and what I see all around us. We are endlessly becoming. We get to choose who we become. It often feels as though one choice might be the crux of change for the rest of our life. And while there are certainly more weighty consequences for some kinds of decisions, I loved that this story spoke of the impact of smaller choices we make on a daily basis.

The choice to control our thoughts and think on things that reflect what is good and true.
The choice to be true to our commitments.
The choice to show up and love when it costs us.
The choice to risk and be vulnerable.
The choice to offer forgiveness.
The choice to ask for forgiveness and repent.
The choice to look for beauty instead of imperfections.
The choice to cheer someone on instead of tearing them down.
The choice to love even when it costs us.

Our mistakes do not have to define us. We get to choose each day in the small things we do and think who we are becoming. We get to choose if we will become someone who loves well. We are not stuck. We are not fixed and stagnant. We are always changing. We are always moving. We are endlessly becoming.

The question isn’t if we will become someone, but who we will become.

I loved the reminder that Julie Klassen offers here through her story of Sophie. We are not victims. We have a choice in the story we tell with our lives. We get to decide how we respond to the mistakes we make. We get to decide who we will become. And we are endlessly becoming.

*If you enjoy historical fiction and want to jump into the days of the Napoleonic Wars, I’d recommend The Painter’s Daughter. It was an enjoyable read, with depth of feeling as the characters faced difficult choices, impacting not just themselves, but everyone they love. 4 out of 5 stars for this fiction reader.

Bethany House Publishers have provided me with a complimentary copy of “The Painter’s Daughter,” in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255


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