Now and then one comes across a promising writer; one who seems to offer enough promise for one to expend time on reviewing his work. One such writer is Terry E. Hill whose novel, Come Sunday Morning I finished reading the other day.
Come Sunday Morning is about the imposing pastor Hezekiah Cleveland and his wife, the beautiful and ambitious Reverend Samantha, the mega muliti million dollar church they are building, and their friends who, rather unsurprisingly given the deceit and machinations common in these mega evangelical churches, are all trying to secretly tear them down for egotistically selfish reasons.. It is the size of the daggers that is in question, not that men and women of God are walking around with them or the fact that they will do all they can to use them.
Even as we learn that Hezekiah and Samantha’s marriage is one of convenience, Hezekiah takes a male lover who, rather unconvincingly if you ask me, shows him that there are things more important than power, status, homes in Beverly Hills, stretch limousines, private jets and millions of dollars in the church’s coffers.
Samantha uses everyone for what she can get out of it and manages to be so cold and one-dimensional she reminds you of a stainless steel thumb tuck. Even so, the story takes on a totally implausible turn when she sleeps with one of her husband’s arch enemies in order to get him to commit a heinous crime for her benefit. Yes, we all know ambitiuos women in the 21st Century will make Lady Macbeth look like Pollyana but Samantha sleeping with that man really does stretch credulity especially since one can figure out that she didn’t have to in order to get him to do her bidding. She is not the only one who compromises her Christianity for ambition and greed so anyone who might feel that Hill had it in for the women in this novel would be justified.
The rest of the characters are as incidental to the main plot as they are flat. Hezekiah’s male lover, Danny St. John, is a sympathetic figure but not rounded enough as a character to evoke lasting sympathy even though it eventually becomes clear that the odds against his love affair with Hezekiah are simply too great.
The main women in this book do come out smelling of a stench so strong that all the scents of Arabia wouldn’t expunge it. If that was intentional, Terry E. Hill certainly does a commendable job of portraying them as ogres, albeit expensively dressed and dolled up ones. The Clevelands’ daughter is incidental to the entire story but she, too, comes off as a wastrel that many readers will find to be merely a self-obsessed irritant. She could have been left out of the entire story without impacting it in any way.
In the end, Hezekiah turns out to be a modern day Marcus Brutus; torn between staying stoic and keeping up appearances with a wife and ministry he doesn’t value with the same fire anymore, or following his heart and doing “the wrong” thing with Danny St. John. In the end the decision is taken out of his hands by events.
It will be a small miracle if Terry Hill doesn’t pen a sequel to this novel, given the way he ends it. One can see a myriad directions he can go with the next part of the story. Sadly, the down low, clandestine gay element is more or less wrung out by the end of novel and it is difficult to see how Hill could possibly continue it with the same smell of roses he managed to establish in Come Sunday Morning. But there is enough left in the story line to warrant another look if Hill ever decides to write the denouement to the Cleveland saga in a follow-up novel.
I bought this book as an E-book and apparently I can wirelessly loan it to anyone with a Kindle … If you want to borrow it, talk to me nicely.