The Sinner’s Guide to Confession (Review)

March 29, 2010

Book cover for "The Sinner's Guide to Confession" by Phyllis Schieber.Title: The Sinner’s Guide to Confession

Author: Phyllis Schieber

Publication Year: 2008

Pages: 384

Genre: Fiction

Source: Purchased in-store from Chapters

This is one of the light reads that I bought at the beginning of the month to take with me on my trip to the Dominican. I planned to read it on the beach, but actually ended up reading it on the airplane between Santo Domingo and Newark, and then finishing it in the Newark airport during my overnight layover.

There are three main characters in the book:

  • Kaye, who has been married for her entire adult life and has grown children. She is having an affair.
  • Barbara, a widow who writes romance novels for a living. She also writes erotica under a pseudonym.
  • Ellen has just been left by her husband for a younger (now pregnant) woman. Their marriage had been childless, but Ellen had given birth at 16 and been forced to give the child up for adoption.

The catch is, even though these three 50-something women are best friends, none of them are aware of each other’s “secret”. Each character deliberates at length about exposing themself to their friends (and, in some cases, family), but these secrets do not come out for most of the book.

The Sinner’s Guide to Confession is definitely not a challenging read in the typical sense of the word. It was quick and engaging on a basic level, such that I was able to keep reading and following the narrative even at 4am in the middle of a deserted airport terminal. For the most part, it was light and funny, as the characters interacted with each other and tried to decide what to do about their secrets. In the end, one of them is thrown into a situation that forces them all to re-visit their secrets and test the bonds of their relationships.

Schieber’s book is not the typical story that I like to read – it’s very “women’s fiction”-ish and directed at an older demographic than mine. Even so, I found that it kept my attention and that I started to really hope that everything would work out for the characters. That, for me, is one of the most important tests of any novel.

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