Reviewed By: Harriet Klausner
Amazon US PB Amazon Canada PB
Michele Andrea Bowen
Warner, Jun 2001, $21.95, 352 pp.
In 1963, Reverend Theophilus Simmons decides to rest and recuperate in Charleston, Mississippi after a week of revival preaching. Theophilus needs some alone time and several helpings of the best rib tip sandwich anywhere in the Delta area before returning to his Memphis flock. At Pompey’s Rib Joint, Theophilus meets cook Essie Lee Lane and feels a miracle has occurred.
Soon Theophilus and Essie Lee share a long distance relationship, fall in love, and marry. However, life as a Reverend and his wife is not made in heaven, as the social demands of the wealthier patrons put a squeeze on the couple’s need to help the poor. Then there is his former lover Glodean to further disturb the mix.
CHURCH FOLK is an engaging, deep glimpse at the African-American Southern Churches during the early civil rights movement. The story line provides an amazing portrayal of the era, but also emphasize sexual promiscuity among religious leaders. The use of profanity might turn off some readers, but the words fit the vernacular of the tale. With strong lead characters being tested by their congregation, Michele Andrea Bowen paints a vivid picture of a bygone era only four decades ago.
Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Harriet Klausner