Book Review: The Painted Table

6 Jan

689700The Norwegian table, a century-old heirloom ingrained with family memory, has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forget—a childhood disrupted by her mother’s mental illness.

Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother’s obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint and heavy with unsettling memories.

After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. She must confront her mother’s torment if she wants to defend herself against it.

SField-188Suzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has also been a magazine editor and home-school teacher. She and her husband have five children and divide their time between Kansas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor.

My Impressions:

Suzanne Field has penned an impressive debut in her novel, The Painted Table. She takes the reader on an emotional journey through the trauma of mental illness. With an unusual subject for Christian fiction, this book presents a realistic and jarring portrayal of the impact of mental illness on a family and the healing that can take place through the redeeming love of God. Not an especially easy read, but one that I highly recommend.

Joann has survived, if barely, childhood trauma. Her insecurities continue to grow into bizarre behavior, mood swings and paranoia. Her family, unsure how to deal with her, cope as best they can. Husband Nels smooths over her behavior and protects her from things that will set her off. Daughters Saffee and April seek safety in different ways — Saffee retreats, April runs away. But Saffee finally confronts the demons that haunted her childhood and effected her as an adult and seeks healing not only for herself, but her family — current and future.

The strength of The Painted Table is in its characters. Flawed, clueless, deeply troubled, they are well-developed and realistic. They are also not always likable, much like real people. They make big mistakes, but God is faithful to draw them and heal them. I really liked how Field has Saffee travel a path of discovery through a message of watch, listen and learn. Saffee is determined to break the patterns of the past and allows God to redeem her life.

The novel is written in third person, present tense. This was a bit jarring for me, since the novel spans over 50 years. But I think I get what the author is trying to do. The past is very present for these characters. Trauma that is not confronted continues to shape their lives in very destructive ways. A candid and powerful story, The Painted Table is going to stay with me for days to come.

Highly Recommended.

For other reviews, click HERE.

(Thank you to LitFuse for my review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase a copy of this book, click on the image below.


Suzanne Field and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, are celebrating the book’s release with a beautiful hand-painted table giveaway!

One winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 18th. Winner will be announced January 20th on Thomas Nelson’s Facebook Page.


7 Responses to “Book Review: The Painted Table”

  1. Carole January 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

    I enjoyed your review, Beckie. I was on the fence about this book, so I passed on reviewing it. Sounds like I made a mistake!

    • rbclibrary January 8, 2014 at 8:12 am #

      It was a totally different book than I was expecting. And at first it was depressing. Glad I kept going with it.

      • Carole January 17, 2014 at 9:30 am #

        Beckie, after reading your review, I e-mailed Christen at Litfuse and she was still able to send me a copy. As you saw, this was one of my favorites. I rarely cry over a book, but the ending had me in tears. And to know it was basically a true story! So thank you for your review and comments on my blog, Beckie.

      • rbclibrary January 17, 2014 at 9:42 am #

        Glad you got a chance to read it. I cried too! Although I cry at Hallmark and Folgers commercials. 😉 Thanks for being such an encourager. On a different note, Suzanne Woods Fisher is going to be in Warner Robins on Monday. Are you close enough to come? She is signing books from 11-1 at the Lifeway store.

      • Carole January 17, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

        Beckie, I’m on the south side of Atlanta, but still probably a two-hour drive to Warner Robins. Thank you for telling me about Suzanne’s signing, though. She’s one of my favorites and I would love to meet her, as well as you.

        Those commercials get to me also, and I am addicted to Hallmark movies. I’m still watching their Christmas movies that I recorded back in December.

      • rbclibrary January 18, 2014 at 7:28 am #

        🙂 ! Don’t know if she is signing any where else in Georgia. The schedule is posted on her FB page.


  1. Saturday Review of Books: January 11, 2014 | Semicolon - February 28, 2014

    […] of Joy (The Round House)16. Thoughts of Joy (Trash)17. Beckie @ ByTheBook (The Dancing Master)18. Beckie @ ByTheBook (The Painted Table)19. Glynn (Lillian’s List)20. Reading World (The Handfasted […]

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