"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
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.