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Lit. chicks hatched from Bible stories

01 March 2013

by Rachel Harden


"IF YOU enjoy Chick Lit with no curse words or full-on love scenes, this sub-genre is for you," writes one commentator on the growing popularity (particularly in the United States) of Christian Chick Lit. Babe's Bible (Gorgeous Grace) is an Anglican attempt to enter this market, written by Karen Jones "Church of England minister, artist, writer and singer/song-writer" (DLT, £10.99 (£9.90); 978-0-232-52920-3). Via the front cover, complete with picture of pouting "babe", readers (presumably but not necessarily women) are asked: "Can a wounded soul ever be healed?"

The plot is pretty simple. Enter Grace, "a gorgeous tall blonde", happily married to an older man (and non-believer, to boot) who is starting a new job as a curate in a suburban parish. Meet Chloe, the pretty (the book mentions much about fashion, salads, and workouts) youth worker, with three children and good-looking husband, but living an unhappy domestic life.

Grace has to confront her past, and Chloe has an affair. How these unravel in the context of church life and their faith and friendship is the theme of the book. If this all seems pretty implausible, it is put in context against stories of women in Gospel times who followed Jesus. The book suddenly takes some shape as the author cleverly reminds readers that 21st-century temptations, problems, and emotions are, in fact, timeless.

The characters woven from the author's own gospel narrative are authentic and clearly based on research into living and social settings of the time. Each chap-ter switches from the 21st-century setting to a backdrop of a Gospel story (written in the book by Grace, as she attempts to make sense of her and Chloe's situation). For example, the first chapter, "Connection", is based on John 8.2-11: "The woman caught in the act".

By the end - and I will give nothing away - the author is already trailing the sequel, Babe's Bible II: Sister acts. Will it catch on? It is hard to tell; but, while it is no Fifty Shades of Grey, it has a certain something (and, yes, there are sex scenes) that helps it rise above Christian-fringe fare.

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