Title: The Book of Revelations
Author: Idelle Kursman
Publication date: May 20, 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction
One Sentence Summary: Christine has been keeping a secret from rising star actor Ryan for almost 20 years and intends on keeping it that way, but their separate lives are about to derail and collide.
Last year, Idelle was absolutely wonderful and did a guest post for The Lily Cafe, so I am very happy to finally be able to do a review for The Book of Revelations this year. I was a little concerned this would turn out to be a second chance at romance kind of story, but was insanely pleased that wasn’t at all the route Idelle took. It’s very much a women’s fiction story, focusing on one woman and the secrets she kept as her life begins to implode around her.
And Incredible Story of Family
Christine Goldberg, after years of struggles and failures, is finally living a happy family life. With a loving husband and two wonderful teens and a decent job at a modeling agency, she’s happy with her life. She just wishes her conservative Christian parents didn’t see her as a disappointment and her Jewish mother-in-law would accept her as one of the family. But her husband is facing a serious looming health condition that could kill him and it has the power to change her life.
On the other side of the country, Ryan Monti is living the life of a rising star. He’s starting to become a star actor with his choice of roles and the only questions he has to answer are which script he wants to accept and which woman he wants on his arm. His life is uncomplicated and seemingly charmed. Except the ghost of his first love will always hang over him. And a blackmailer might have found out a secret even he didn’t know about.
The Book of Revelations was such a surprise to me. I thought I knew where the story was heading and was kind of excited about a second chance at love kind of story. But this book took that idea and just chucked it out the window. It was so much more than that. It was about family and secrets and setting things right.
I really felt for Christine and the tough life she’d had. Her story really struck a chord with me. When we meet her, her husband is on the cusp of receiving a potentially devastating diagnosis, one that will send their family into a tailspin. Through it all, she really tries to hold it together, to hold things down on her own, to be there for everyone else. Having her ex walk back into her life was the last thing she ever wanted, and watching her be pulled in so many different ways really made me feel for her.
Ryan’s story was fascinating. A rising star in Hollywood, nothing can go wrong. Until someone starts blackmailing him, setting into motion everything else that happens in this book. Honestly, I think the blackmail plot really saved this book from being just an okay read. Without it, it is a little lackluster and focused on Christine’s impending life hardships. It added some much needed action and tension and was, I think, the best part of this book.
There’s also a bit of a religious clash that I found absolutely fascinating. Christine was raised to be a good Catholic girl, but married a Jewish man. I don’t know much about the Jewish religion and culture, so it was interesting to get to know a bit of it throughout the book. It’s not a very present element, but there’s a constant undercurrent of it. I also liked the clash it created between Christine and her mother-in-law.
If there’s one thing I wasn’t really a fan of was the way the characters, especially Christine, focused on looks. I got that she works for a modeling agency, but I also wonder why she was so focused on working in that field and why she was almost obsessed with the fact that she still looked good. Several of the other characters also focused more on looks, making the story feel a little more superficial than I liked.
My favorite part was that this is not at all a romance. It’s about family. I loved that it just neatly sidestepped the potential for a romance plot and shut the door on it. It was refreshing and made the characters much more likable as they respected the new boundaries between them. Instead, the book focused on family, on the ties that bind people. I liked that the characters did things for each other because it was the right thing to do and not because of some lingering feelings of love. It made the story feel more authentic.
They Once Knew Each Other
The Book of Revelations is centered around Christine and Ryan, two people with a history who have been out of contact for almost two decades. For better or worse, these two really had an impact on each other.
But the people around them were also really interesting. Christine’s family was fascinating and full of complex relationships, but she and her husband had such a sweet marriage and her children were absolutely wonderful. I didn’t exactly think they were typical teens, but I liked that they were mature and thoughtful, and could definitely squabble like siblings. I also really liked the blackmailer. The lengths they went to was kind of astounding, but it really made the story interesting. Their characterization wasn’t really complex, but I loved the consistency and how they really went all in.
I really liked Christine. Always the good girl until she wasn’t, she still worked to do and be her best. She struggled and worked hard, but always put her family first. I think that, because her past had hurt her so much, she had something of a hard outer shell, but, underneath, she was kind of a mess just trying her best to hold things together. I loved that she could both be strong and still be able to break down. Above all, though, I loved that she felt real and human.
I can’t say I was as much of a fan of Ryan’s, but I definitely got he has a bit of a tragic back story as well. Unlike Christine, he made his choices and must now live with the consequences. There were several times when he came off as more naive, so it was a little harder to feel sympathetic towards him. But I did like how hard he worked to try to atone for his mistakes and try to set things right.
Most of The Book of Revelations is spent in and around Boston while other portions were in Hollywood. Overall, I didn’t get a strong sense of place throughout the book, as though it existed in order for the characters to have a place to walk around, but I did like that I got a more East Coast feel of Boston and Hollywood definitely had that Hollywood air.
I don’t know much about Boston and have only been once, so I kind of filled in all the blanks with what I know of the East Coast. I got the sense that some things were close together and other things were more suburban. I may have also pictured far too many red brick houses, but I liked that the city did feel like a typical bustling city. There were places to hide, which was quite an important piece of the story, and plenty of people around.
Hollywood is, as always, Hollywood. I got a sense of warm sun and fast cars. Being from L.A., it felt comforting and familiar. There’s also parties and paparazzi and the superficiality and being with the right person in order to get ahead. I think the characters perfectly set the stage more than the actual place descriptions, but it also made it feel a little more alive to me.
A Lovely Read
The Book of Revelations was not what I was expecting, and I liked that. It came off as more superficial and looks focused than I would have liked, but, deep down, it’s really a pretty story about family. Everyone was so careful about not stepping on anyone’s toes, and the blackmail plot was a genius twist. I loved how all the secrets finally spilled out and how the characters managed to rally together and truly be there for each other when they needed to be. Also, those teens are incredible in every way.
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Thank you to Idelle Kursman for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.