Christine Sunderland

Christine Thomas Sunderland (1947-), the daughter of a Presbyterian pastor, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and came of age in the tumultuous Vietnam war years. Her inspirational novels, set in the present day, reflect the larger questions of our world today: What is civilization? Why is our past important? How do we understand where we are going? How does God act sacramentally among us in time? What is the nature of the Church and the architecture of belief? Her trilogy explores the Catholic legacy of Western European culture: Pilgrimage (OakTara, 2007) tells of a mother's search for healing of body and soul in Italy (Hon. Mention, Southern California Book Festival); Offerings (OakTara, 2009) tells of a redemptive journey through France (Bronze Medal, Independent Publisher Book Awards); Inheritance (OakTara 2009) tells of a life-saving trip through England (Hon. Mention, London Book Festival). A fourth novel, Hana-lani (OakTara, 2010), set in Hana, Maui, is a love story about the role of family in American culture (Hon. Mention, San Francisco Book Festival). Her fifth novel, The Magdalene Mystery (OakTara 2013), involves a quest to discover the true Mary Magdalene and is set in Rome and Provence. She is currently writing a novel set in Berkeley, California about the borderline between civilization and the wildernenss, titled The Fire Trail. Christine holds a BA in English Literature from San Francisco State University and is a graduate of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and the Maui Writers Retreat. She serves as Managing Editor of the American Church Union ( She lives in Northern California with her husband and two incredible cats.

Book Reviews by Christine Sunderland

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On the Third Day

When Simonite novice Andrew Nash discovers the body of Father John Lambert, he worries that his mentor has taken his own life. Andrew travels from London to Jerusalem to learn exactly what Father Lambert had discovered for himself. Did the priest believe they had found the bones of Jesus of Nazareth under the Temple Mount? Did he lose his faith and commit suicide? And what about Andrew's own faith?

Set against the backdrop of a crumbling Soviet Union with a plot woven with intrigue, On the Third Day asks the question, "What if the body of Christ was found, proving that there was no bodily res...

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Shadows and Images: A Novel

As an Anglo-Catholic I have long been interested in the journey of Blessed John Henry Newman from the Anglican Church into the Roman Catholic Church. Meriol Trevor (1919-2000) has written in novel form an excellent introduction to Newman through the vehicle of fiction. Shadows and Images is also a deeply moving love story, beautifully written.

The life of Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) is seen through the eyes of Clem, a contemporary, who meets him as the Oxford Movement of the 1830s is stirring the country and challenging a sleepy, stuffy, established Church of England. We follow Clem as she enters...

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Father Malachy's Miracle

This exquisitely written book is about miracles, what they can do and what they can't do.

Set in Glasgow in the 1930's, the story tells of Father Malachy Murdock, an elderly priest, who desires to convert the world with a miracle, a spectacular, attention-getting miracle that folks will be unable to ignore, unable to deny, and that will ensure their conversion to Christianity.

Father Malachy focuses on a dance hall across the street from the church. The priest asks God to move the hall to an island off the Scottish coast called the Bass Rock. As he and others hold a prayer vigil sho...

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The Third Grace

One of the greatest fallacies today is the denial of history and tradition in an effort to recreate ourselves. For in denying history, we deny God. In Deb Elkink's debut novel, The Third Grace, this theme runs through a well-crafted story.

In this coming-of-age plot, Mary Grace, 17, seeks to find herself by redefining herself, leaving her past behind. She falls in love with Francois, a high school exchange student, because of his image, not his true character. After an unforgettable summer, Francois is no longer in her life; she leaves her rural Nebraska roots for the big city of Denver. She ...

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Death of a Pope

This thoughtful literary thriller addresses weighty and timely themes: not only challenges to belief in an unbelieving world, but the devastation of AIDS and sexual license, the disparity between first and third worlds, rich and poor, and the role of a Church guided by tradition. Secular versus religious, Muslim versus Christian, new versus old: who are the real combatants today? Our world is complex.

The author has chosen his characters wisely. An idealistic London reporter becomes enthralled with a charismatic relief worker, getting more than she bargained for. Her uncle, a conservative priest, watches ...

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The Forest

Author Susan Prudhomme begins this wonder-filled tale with these tantalizing words:

The Forest lies in velvet mystery on the face of mountains and valleys, its mists spreading amongst the ridges like a sleeping, purring beast.

We soon enter the world of Timkin Tanwarrel and join him on his great adventure. Timkin is a Menchian, one of the little people of the forest, cousins to humans.  We are introduced to Timkin with words that engender trust in the teller:

Into the Menchian family of Tanwarrel, Timkin was born.  It was a fine family, austere and proud...

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The Wisdom of Ambrose

In this delightful fantasy by Susan Prudhomme, empty-nester Susan Anderson seeks to find her true identity among the lofty and silent redwoods of Northern California.  She crosses into another world, a parallel time, and meets Ambrose, a large brown bear.

As baby-boomer mothers watch their children grow up and leave home, they are left with painful gaps in their lives. Some have professions that fill their hearts, minds, and hours, and perhaps for these busier moms the question of identity may be put off until retirement, perhaps not. Those who dedicated those eighteen (plus) years to their children (and sp...

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War in Heaven

Looking for the Holy Grail in a Village Church

In Charles Williams' supernatural thriller War in Heaven, an exquisitely constructed story pits three good characters against three evil ones in the protection and attempted destruction, respectively, of the Holy Graal (old spelling of Grail), discovered in the English village of Fardles, or Castra Parvulorum, the Camp of the Children. Caught in the center of this drama is a generic family: a worried father and husband; a cheerful mother and wife; their innocent four-year-old son.

As a pr...

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The Children of Men

The year is 2021 and the setting is England. No children have been born since 1995, for man has become infertile.


P.D. James' novel, The Children of Men, is divided into two parts: Omega and Alpha, the End and the Beginning. We move from a slow, distanced narrative deadened with despair to a vibrant style alive with hope.


The unsympathetic narrator challenges the reader's attention in the first pages with a sluggish pace. Professor Theodore Faron seems incapable of l...

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Father Elijah: An Apocalypse

I read Father Elijah ten years ago, and recalled how refreshing it was to read a story set in the late 20th century that was infused with the sacramental acts of God. I also recalled not being able to put it down. Would the book be as I remembered? Could I add this to my gift list for friends and family? Would this help or hinder their belief in the Christian God of love?

Our hero, Father Elijah, is a Carmelite monk, his past forged in the fires of brutal suffering. As David Schafer, a Holocaust survivor and promising Israeli statesman-attorney, he experiences even more tragedy. But he finds rede...

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Sign-up for this free weekly e-newsletter and receive the free article - "What is Catholic Fiction?" Read the weekly column The Catholic Imagination and You and more.