“Precious in His Sight,” a novel by Karen Pashley, is a good read. At times it is a painful read, but it’s a good read. With the tag line “A determined wife, her guilt-ridden husband, and the other woman, whose struggle may set them all free” imprinted on the cover, one can’t help but suspect that, whatever the difficulties the characters may encounter, there is a good chance that the story will end with a happy ending.
Racked by guilt, Clay comes clean to his wife – but not before she’s already found out about the affair – forcing Sugar to struggle to forgive a man she thought she knew, but who now seems like a complete stranger.
And this is where the novel really digs in. By coincidence (or is it divine appointment?) Sugar meets a wise and profound Christian woman who has had her share of tragedy and has come out of it stronger and with a deep love for God and for other people. Having found someone she can open up to, Sugar cultivates the relationship as she struggles to forgive and move forward.
Her missions trip, which at first she saw simply as a way to get away from Clay for a while and think things through, turns out to be a key factor in her spiritual growth as she begins to see that she has been living in a Christian bubble, totally oblivious to many of the problems many are facing – including unwanted pregnancies … and unwanted children.
The story flows well, propelling itself forward by switching back and forth between Sugar Brennan, the quintessential southern belle, and her husband, Clay, a successful architect splitting his time between Westfield, South Carolina and New York City. The Brennans seem to have it all: plenty of money (at one point Clay buys his wife a $47,000 diamond bracelet), a solid Christian faith (Clay is a deacon at Cornerstone Community Church, where Sugar is an active and vital member), and two well-adjusted children (the Brennans have a son attending Georgetown University and a daughter working at an advertising agency in Charlotte, North Carolina). But all is not as it seems, as during the course of the novel Clay’s business collapses and his daughter walks in on him and his mistress while Sugar is on a short-term missions trip to Ukraine (“not the Ukraine,” Sugar corrects a friend before leaving for the trip, “just Ukraine.”).
With his relationship with his wife and both of his children at an all-time low, Clay is forced to face himself in the mirror and fall to pieces at the feet of the Savior.
And just when it looks like everything’s going to be okay, Clay’s ex-mistress shows up in South Carolina with a startling announcement: Not only is she pregnant, but she has a brain tumor that threatens to kill her or the baby – or both.
Rife with rich descriptions of southern life, including the comfortable world of Southern American Christianity, “Precious in His Sight” tackles issues facing many in the modern world: the sanctity of life, the value of marriage and family, and what it means to trust God when things are at their darkest.
For anyone who has been wounded by infidelity, the novel may bring back the pain associated with that particular sin. For anyone who has been burned by someone they trusted deeply, those wounds may rise to the surface, too. But for anyone who has experienced the love and forgiveness of God, through the Savior Jesus Christ, the novel is a story of redemption and love that might just leave you smiling through your tears.