Review: Never the Bride

I was browsing through the library’s Christian fiction section and saw the title Never the Bride. So I picked the book up. This is probably evidence of some sort of problem, but whatever.

Jessie Stone has lived her life with one dream: to be married. She longs for chivalry, she practices wedding vows, she fills her journals with dream proposals – using her feathery purple pen. But now she’s 34, and Prince Charming has yet to show.

But on February 14, God does. He has a request. He wants Jessie to give Him her purple pen. He wants her to let Him write her love story. Or she can keep on doing things her way, if that’s working for her. To a woman who, on Valentine’s Day, just spent her evening speed-dating, this is a compelling argument.

Never the Bride is a wonderful book, funnier and more profound than you would expect. Jessie Stone’s intense desire for marriage isn’t the set-up for a stormy love affair; it’s the set-up for a lesson in trusting God. We all struggle with obedience, with doing things God’s way, with just trusting. “Thy will be done” is an easy prayer, until we discover His will isn’t ours. And Jessie will discover that letting God write her story doesn’t mean she’ll always like the script.

But there is nothing heavy-handed in this book. The authors make their point, but they keep a light touch. Humor flows throughout. The book is written in first-person, present tense – an unusual but very enjoyable style, and one that lets the heroine shine through. Jessie Stone is an excellent character. Capable, dependable, and an incurable romantic; a dreamer with a keen sense of humor and a compulsive need to have things just so. When a friend calls her a control freak, she proves that she can so handle disorder by nudging her stapler out of alignment with the sticky notes. Then she can’t look at it.

The plot is brisk, and Jessie’s search for true love takes ups and downs. There is one tremendous plot twist, which I will not even hint at. The writing is fresh and uncluttered, and the narrative flows easily.

As I said earlier, God appears to speak with Jessie, invisible to everyone but her. This is the sort of thing that can be done well and must be done very carefully. Ultimately, I believe the authors succeeded. God appears to Jessie as a handsome young man. Naturally, this guise doesn’t do justice to the majesty and fearfulness of the God of the universe. Yet the authors seem conscious of that. There is a moment when Jessie contradicts Him and,

He looks down at me, and for a moment I catch a glimpse of who He really is inside that young man’s body. I squirm.

Glimpses of who He really is, behind the guise of that young man’s body, are continually given. You see the divine prerogative in His interrupting her schedule to bring her onto His, or in telling her it’s His script and He’s not accepting nominations for Prince Charming.

Never the Bride is a lovely book, witty, moving, and profound. It’s a keeper, even if you’re not waiting to be the bride.