Once upon a time, I read romance books. Then at one point, I got sick and tired of the boy meets girl stories and switched to murder mysteries. I never looked back, until now. I recently picked up ‘If I Were You’ by Lynn Austin. Not because the story particularly appealed to me, but because of the narrator, Sarah Zimmerman, whose voice I absolutely love.
At first, I found the story rather good. A shy spoiled rich girl, Audrey, meets a poor vivacious girl, Eve and the two form an unlikely friendship. When WWII comes to London, the two enlist and become ambulance drivers. So far, so good. However, the story gets spoiled in a number of ways.
On the one hand, these two women are no tender-hearted pussycats as they not only survive boot camp but as ambulance drivers, they see all kinds of tragedy and disasters, from corpses to victims with severed limbs. Yet, on the other hand, the author turns them into blubbering fragile wimps. Throughout the book, they do nothing but cry or a form thereof. They cry, they sob, tears stream down their cheeks, water wells up in their eyes, their eyes mist over … you get the picture.
Of the two Eve is the hardest, yet when push comes to shove all she can think and say is … I want my mom, where is my mom, I wish my mom were here, where is mommy? This doesn’t resonate with the tough girl who faces bomb attacks and rescues people in the most difficult of circumstances.
Even more annoying is the fact that Lynn Austin is very religious and does her very best to convert her readers. At first, I thought she was a nun or a vicar’s wife, but no, she’s married with several children. I have nothing against religion, in fact, I’m a believer myself, but when it comes to religion I support Ill Gates his theory: "Religion is like a penis... It's fine to have one, it's fine to be proud of it, but please don't shove it down my other people’s throats."
Yet that is exactly what Lynn Austin does. It’s God this and God that, it’s the Lord this and the Lord that. Her readers are reminded that they are sinners, because this is a sin, and that is a sin, etc. Throughout the book it’s a case of ‘Please God, don’t let … ‘ this or that. On the next page … ‘God, oh God, please don’t …’ this or that.
If Austin doesn’t use the word God or Lord, she refers to God as the good shepherd. We (the readers) are sheep and God is our shepherd. We are supposed to figure out who we are and what we do with our lives. The shepherd will guide us. The shepherd this and the shepherd that. It would seem that Austin is hell-bent on converting if the hardened atheist.
To me, all this talk of religion is inappropriate. We read or listen to books to relax, not to be converted. All this talk about religion might be fine for Bible thumpers or pillar biters, but for the rest of us, it is downright annoying. Mention God or our Lord once or twice when it’s suitable, but not over, and over, and over again.
Not that all Eve’s and Audrey’s endless praying helps. Eve prays that her granny will be alright, but she isn’t, she dies. She prays that her mom is alright, but she isn’t, she too dies. She prays that her boyfriend lives through the war, but he doesn’t. Which makes one wonder about the use of prayer. How often have we all prayed for something not to happen? Did it happen? Did it not? Only you know. Personally, I haven’t had much luck.
We all need to believe in something. We all need someone to turn to in hard times, but Lynn Austin takes it a little too far. It’s because of people like her that I turned away from religion. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an atheist, I am a believer, but I’m more spiritual than religious. Too much harm has been done in the name of religion. People have been killed, women have been suppressed, lives have been ruined, all in the name of religion.
As I said, having a religion is fine, but it’s fanatics like Lynn Austin who ruin it for others.
About the Creator
Conny is the author of Waiting for Silverbird, Voice of an Angel, Lily, Kitten Diaries and Debbie. Contributor to various hard copy and online publications.
She lives in Toronto with her son and cats.