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It’s one thing to claim faith… another thing to live by faith… and yet another thing to live by faith when your whole life comes a-tumblin’ down…
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The year is 1988, and the Abney family is settled in at Mt. Moriah Lutheran Church in rural Shibboleth, New York.
Their life is not without its challenges. Pastor Donald is haunted by the probing, judging memory of his revivalist grandfather. His wife Carmichael struggles to feel at home, a task not made any easier by her parents’ inconvenient revelation of family secrets. Eleven-year-old Kitty is equally averse to growing up and to insufferable classmate Megan. At least little Saul and Asher, born within a year of each other, are content as they explore the meadow on the steep hillside surrounding church and parsonage.
Then tragedy strikes, shattering family and faith. A faction in the congregation exploits the disaster, threatening to rob the Abneys of what little is left of their impoverished life.
A-Tumblin’ Down topples headlong into grief and explores the strong grace needed to survive. Yet the story is not only sad and serious; it’s also funny, joyful, and enchanted. Even a tragic world abounds in wonders beyond belief, as the Abney family comes to see by the novel’s triumphant and satisfying, but not simplistic, ending.
For super-fans only: check out the Palimpsest Guide to A-Tumblin’ Down, full of details about the origins and writing process of this book, plus details and explanations not included in the novel itself, and explorations of its deeper themes.
And for hungry readers in particular: download the Mt. Moriah Lutheran Church Cookbook for twelve desserts from characters in the novel, not only delicious but also windows into character…!
Sarah Hinlicky Wilson writes, walks, cooks, and podcasts in Tokyo, Japan, where she lives with her husband and son. She’s the founder of Thornbush Press, a prolific author, and serves as Associate Pastor at Tokyo Lutheran Church.
Follow her work and sign up for her quarterly e-newsletter Theology & a Recipe at www.sarahhinlickywilson.com.
Listen to her podcast, now in season 4, “Queen of the Sciences: Conversations between a Theologian and Her Dad,” with Paul R. Hinlicky (her dad—you guessed it!).
“Not many theologians write fiction; we should probably be grateful for that. But there are notable exceptions: Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, for instance. This new book, her first novel (though not her first work of fiction), counters preconceptions about what a theologically informed novel should look like. A fat family saga, it is subversively chatty, funny, relaxed, even as it also encompasses tragedy.” —John Wilson, First Things