I have enjoyed Melanie’s books in the past. The Golden Braid is a really solid novel. Her books are cute, sweet, and Christian, usually without a bunch of preaching. I like her books, I really do.
But The Merchant’s Daughter was horrible. I tried to make myself finish it, hoping it might redeem itself, but I just couldn’t keep reading.
It’s not even plot or characters (although I didn’t really like any of them and they were rather flat).
A little background: Annabel, the lead, wants to join a nunnery. Her family is trying to make her marry this disgusting old bailiff (why are disgusting men in every one of Melanie’s books? Just once I’d like a good-looking villain) so she goes to work as an indentured servant. The bailiff very clearly wants to rape her. And Melanie will not say it bluntly for anything in the world.
And that, my friends, is why I quit reading.
If you’re going to write a book that deals with as serious a topic as rape, you’d better say the word. I don’t care if you’re trying to be “clean” or that you’re writing Christian fiction. Christians get raped too, and it’s a very real problem that should never, ever, be sugar-coated. Annabel is afraid the bailiff will rape her and the reader needs to know that. “Hurt” is not an adequate word.
Now, I can see reasons Melanie may not have wanted to say “rape” blatantly. I know some readers may not know what it is. But she writes teen fiction. I’m pretty sure her readers know what rape is. As a matter of fact, I have read middle-grade Christian novels that mention rape. We can handle it, Melanie- don’t lose your point.
And just because it’s called Christian doesn’t mean it has to be squeaky clean. I’ve read the Old Testament, for crying out loud, and I’m pretty sure most other Christian girls have too.
So, yeah, I just couldn’t stand it anymore.
It was also a thousand times preachier than her other books. I don’t mind a little bit of preachiness; it’s Christian fiction and I kind of expect it, but this was excessive. I get that Annabel had never read the Bible, but I did not need a commentary on every parable of Jesus. I don’t read novels for Biblical commentary.
All that said, I do have a good friend that adored this book. So maybe you’ll like it, but I obviously did not.
How do you feel about rape being handled in fiction? Have you read The Merchant’s Daughter?