The reader of IN THE SEVENTH DAY approaches me, eyes wide — the look tells me either he loves my novel or is horrified by it or maybe both!
Sure enough, he raves about it.
“How could that be?” he marvels. “How could they be that submissive? I kept waiting for — but then, you fooled me.”
We talk at length about the characters, about the town, about the abuse! We talk about the real umbrella authority in some evangelical, fundamentalist circles — Umbrella authority that calls for a woman to be entirely submissive to male authority. The look of horror on my reader’s face says it all.
This review is from: In the Seventh Day (Paperback)
One does not hear too much about the anti-hero these days, but if that character has moved on to other climes and you miss him, take heart–the bastard is alive and well in a new pull-no-punches novel by Jane Cooper Easton, In the Seventh Day. Set in a small midwestern community that can only be described as “way off the beaten path” Cooper takes us directly into the mind of Kevin Hillar, a charismatic young preacher who has come to town to establish The Way, a new denomination that will follow the “umbrella authority” that his fundamentalist sect has generated from their retrograde understanding of the teachings of the Apostle Paul. To the liberal/secular mind the most generous description to be offered of this quirky theological world would be “violently anti-feminist.” And so it is in Ms. Easton’s novel.
One would have to search far and wide to discover in modern literature a darker, more perverse, self-serving, devious, holier-than-thou anti-hero than Rev. Kevin Hillar. Coupling astounding sexual charm with charismatic preaching he rapaciously and murderously gratifies his libido under the radar as, via pithy and precisely ten minute long sermons he recruits a devoted congregation soon eager to build a permanent “umbrella centric” church to replace the tobacco barn which was his first sanctuary.
Ms. Easton’s book is a chilling murder mystery procedural as well as a tough minded rumination on a particularly destructive form of Pentecostal Christianity in rural America. It also is a daunting cautionary tale about a deeply rooted societal wish to keep women as fully subjugated as suggested by the old Chauvinistic saw, “a woman should be kept barefoot, naked and in the kitchen.” The tale is gripping throughout and may require a strong stomach on the part of some readers. As literature it is a construct almost totally Brechtian in design. In terse, cooly objective prose it sharply defines the malaise, describes its malignant spread, but consciously withholds the expected–indeed, longed for–final scene where poetic justice is meted out.
“Jane Cooper Easton’s “In The Seventh Day” is a great read. I can see this storyline making its way into a “Justified” series (calling those who script the series… take a look at this one). I must admit, it’s a little off the beaten path of most of my reading, but when I finally got into its pages, I read it through to completion… in a very short timeframe. I got a little queezy during a few scenes, so be warned, the author allows the central character to run with his take on his (mis)understanding of Scripture. This dude is not a nice guy. But then, it’s very difficult to find anyone in the storyline who could be called the good guy. The crimes committed and their justification (a nod to the scripters again) in the name of Christianity is appalling to say the least. In the end, I believe there is an intention by the author to cause the reader to examine our doctrine (not a bad suggestion… ever). The twisting of the Bible’s view of women has always been a concern in the church. The character pastor in this story distorts it so badly that I walked away from this work checking to ensure there isn’t a dab of that mindset in my own life. The ending is really provoking (I’ll say no more, but I closed the cover angry!), but the reader is left understanding a little better how a man could end up with such a distorted view of the grace and mercy of the cross. You’ll have to get beyond some of the crude actions of the main character (the author doesn’t restrain him), but I highly recommend this work. Very moving.”
Who wants to read a book about an evil man, anyway? I guess not many are particularly interested in learning about the oppression of umbrella authority Christianity and its devastating effects on the family, especially on female members of the family.
No one wants to be brought up short by sexual abuse and murder.
Let me say right off the bat that In the Seventh Day is most definitely NOT for the faint of heart. Ms. Easton has created a character that is terrifying. Springboarding off of a popular ultraconservative concept called “umbrella authority,” she takes that idea and has it run amok in this little community. Kevin Hillar takes this idea of authority to an extreme and uses it in ways that are shocking and frightening (not to mention nauseating). The way he manipulates people is creepy. He certainly does have a “gift.”
The scenes are graphic. The crimes are almost done without any thought, making Kevin Hillar one of the most terrifying villains I’ve ever seen, especially when coupled with a religious concept that I already didn’t agree with.
I enjoyed the book, while hating the main characters. Pretty much all of them. In truth, there really is no “protagonist” in this story. The people who fall prey to Hillar’s manipulation are just as much to blame as he. The only true innocent in this tale is the young Patricia, just a teen. This is a shocking look at a horrible type of manipulation. It made me think of a song by Steve Taylor from 1985, called “I Manipulate.” http://youtu.be/cKlZ7U67Uio
Let me re-emphasize…don’t read this book if you’re squeamish. There are scenes that will turn your stomach. If you can handle it, grab it.