I have so many mixed feelings about this book. When I was much younger and stupider, all of my reading was Christian fiction. As a genre, it’s… not great. But Francine Rivers was always a favourite because her writing is way above average in that world.
I hadn’t picked up anything in that genre in decades, but when Rivers released this new book, and I had a few people recommend it, I thought I’d dip my toes back into it. How bad could it be? [Narrator: It could be very bad]
The Masterpiece is about a successful artist from LA, Roman Velasco. His commercial success is tainted by demons from his past, and he lives an unhappy solitary life, holed up in a vast mansion all alone. His only true outlet for his pain is his undercover art – becoming one of the city’s most prolific graffiti artists. It’s a secret that would destroy his career and get him arrested if he was ever discovered.
Enter Grace Moore, battling demons of her own, she is desperate for work, and takes a job as Roman’s assistant (a job that no one holds for long). Naturally, romance ensues.
Rivers is great at developing plot and suspense, and at places I couldn’t put it down…. but I also couldn’t stop rolling my eyes. Grace is, of course, a Christian and we know that this plot won’t be resolved until Roman joins her on this same faith journey.
On one hand, great? In the case of most couples, having compatible beliefs is a good thing to strive for… but the writing here is just so… bad. I say this as a person who loves Jesus, and even works at a church, NO ONE LIKES PEOPLE WHO TALK LIKE THIS. Every other word out of this character’s mouth was about her beliefs and it just sounded like the author needed to give a sermon and was using Grace to do it. It was the religious archetype that is portrayed in TV shows and movies (which is, sadly, probably based on how some people are?), but in my experience, it’s those types of conversations that get Christians labelled as judgemental and accused of pushing their beliefs down peoples’ throats. I’m not a fan.
The story itself isn’t half bad, but only if you can get past the religious rambling.