Monday, May 5, 2014

Casting the Net by Pam Rhodes

Heartwarming English comedy of manners, featuring the trials and tribulations of newly ordained minister, Neil Fisher

In part two of the Dunbridge Chronicles, Neil Fisher returns from ordination inspired by his sense of ministry, but determined to distance himself from the two ladies in his life. This is not altogether well received, and a wide segment of the congregation of St Stephen’s, Dunbridge—including the music group—points Neil to the error of his ways.

Meanwhile Neil’s close friend Colin and his wife, Jeannie, are delighted by the birth of a daughter, but is all well with the baby? Neil’s mother Iris continues to meddle, to his irritation. Churchwarden Peter has said a relieved farewell to his flighty wife Glenda—or has he? Dunbridge is not as peaceful as it seems.

My review:
   Some years ago, I read a couple of the books by Jan Karon that have been so popular, and didn't really care for them. This series is somewhat along the same lines of those books, but I find myself enjoying them far more. I loved the first book, and found myself liking the second one even better.

  In this book, Neil, the main character, is finding his footing more as a vicar. The same interesting and sometimes odd characters from book one are back for this, along with the two competing love interests for the new minister.

 I am more used to the main character hanging out a tavern and drinking ale, but I could still do without that, but I still found myself completely enjoying the book. Neil is constantly finding himself in funny and difficult circumstances, and also finds himself struggling a bit with his call.

  Not all is fun and games in this book, as a seasoned leader loses faith in the midst of loss, and Neil is left scrambling to fill a void he doesn't feel ready to fill, while trying to plow through the question of whether God is truly good in the midst of loss.

  I do find the idea of a minister becoming involved with a nonbeliever against what the Bible teaches, but this is fiction, and that may be worked out in the next book. The book was a quite satisfying sequel, and though a departure from my usual suspense/mystery novels, is still a book that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could turn them. This is a series worth reading, and one that men might enjoy more than a lot of the fiction that is geared for women,

About the author:

Pam Rhodes cut her teeth in news journalism, firstly as Programme Organiser on Thames Television's network documentary series, THIS WEEK, then as the anchor for Anglia Television live daily evening news programme for seven years.  She's featured on a very wide range of television and radio programmes ever since, but since 1987, has been best known as the familiar face of BBC Television's SONGS OF PRAISE.  In that time she has interviewed people ranging from The Pope to Dolly Parton, earning herself a reputation as a highly professional and empathetic interviewer, especially when people are speaking about sensitive, perhaps traumatic experiences. Also, SONGS OF PRAISE is the perfect programme for a presenter who truly loves hymns, old and new.  If you mention almost any hymn you can think of to Pam, she's likely to come back with the full story of who wrote it and why, as well as giving you renditions of a couple of tunes to which it can be sung - as you'd know if you've ever dipped into any of her weekly radio programmes WITH HEARTS AND HYMNS which have featured on Premier Christian Radio for a decade!

She has presented televised recordings in venues from the Sydney Opera House to London's Royal Albert hall, and is often asked to compere large orchestral or musical events at theatres and churches around the country - including, throughout Summer 2011, the famous BATTLE PROMS concerts which attract thousands to visitors to the gardens of glorious stately homes for an evening of picnic, patriotic music, Napoloeonic re-enactment, orchestral music, Spitfire fly-pasts and the largest collection of cannons and artillery you're likely to see in action anywhere!  Pam is also well known as an entertaining after-dinner speaker, and as a mainstream author with five novels and six factual books under her belt.   She regularly contributes articles and short stories to national newspapers like The Daily Mail, and publications such as CHOICE, MY WEEKLY, PEOPLE'S FRIEND, WOMAN'S WEEKLY and other specialist publications.

She is married to Richard Crow and lives with the family at a two-acre small holding in Bedfordshire.  It is there that they run BIGGLESWADE CAT LODGE which not only takes in cats while their owners are on holiday, but has also become known for boarding RSPCA animals who need loving care whilst new homes are found for them.  So Pam is likely to be cleaning out cat pens most days, or escaping for a potter in the garden when she's not happily tied to the computer by her first love of writing!  She also enjoys dancing so is often out ballroom, line or tap dancing - or at modern jive evenings similar to the one at which she met her husband Richard some years ago!

More about Pam and her books on her website.

  Casting The Net is available from Lion Hudson Publishing, an imprint of Kregel Publishing.