September 30, 2008

This Month's Book Club Discussion: A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

I’m so sorry this is getting up so late. Things have just been crazy lately (you’ll notice I don’t even write on my own blog), but I wanted to get these questions up before September was officially over. So without further delay, here are my thoughts and questions on A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman. I’d love you hear your thoughts and answers to the questions as well.
My questions for you:

  • What do you think is the significance of the daughter’s names?
  • What would you do if put into Faith’s position?
  • Do you consider yourself more like Faith or Charity?
  • How did you feel about the relationship between the two sisters?
  • Did you find yourself choosing a side? Whose side were you on?
  • How did you feel about the way Julie Lessman portrayed men and women differently in this novel? Or did you feel they were both portrayed similarly?
  • Do you typically enjoy Christian fiction? Why or why not?
  • Did you like this novel? Why or why not?
  • Are you interested in reading the rest of the books in the series?

Q&A with Julie Lessman (if you have any more questions, she'll be reading the comments and answering any questions you have):

What was your inspiration behind A Passion Most Pure?

Well, initially, it was Margaret Mitchell and that white-hot attraction she gave Rhett Butler for Scarlett O’Hara! From the moment I read Gone With the Wind at the tender age of twelve, I was hooked on romance. So much so, that I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere (grin), but I did write 150 single spaced pages of a story that is actually the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure.

To me, then and now, there is nothing more intriguing than a man who wants a woman on his terms but can’t have her on any terms but hers. In the case of A Passion Most Pure, we have a bad-boy hero angry at God who is drawn to a heroine who will settle for nothing less than a relationship with God in the middle. From there, it was just a matter of borrowing from my own past (playing 2nd fiddle to an older sister who was prettier and more voluptuous than me), and the ideas took flight.

The final inspiration for A Passion Most Pure, however, came one
day while I was sitting in a beauty shop. I was reading a July 2001 Newsweek cover article about how Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding when something in my spirit said, “Now is the time to finish your book.” So I started my novel the next month. Hard to believe that almost forty years passed before God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him!

Were the characters based on any people in your life? If not, what gave you the idea for using Faith, Hope, and Charity as names?

Well, at the risk of sounding narcissistic (gulp), three of my sister characters are based on different aspects of my personality. Basically, I like to delve into characters on a deeply emotional level, and so I draw upon the wealth of emotional baggage from my own past. And trust me, we’re talking the mother lode! For instance, Faith, the sister heroine from A Passion Most Pure, is my spiritual self while Charity, the “wicked” sister is my sensual or worldly self before I “got religion.”J In book 3, A Passion Denied, the sister heroine is Lizzie, who is a bookworm and dreamer, which is how I used to be as a child, often sneaking downstairs at night to watch forbidden romance movies on the TV when my parents were sleeping.

As far as the names Faith, Hope and Charity, it’s rather ironic that I picked the name of Faith for my heroine at the age of twelve because faith in God was not very important to me back then. But today, it’s the perfect name for my main character because her faith in God is as natural as breathing to her. The name Charity is also ironic because in book 1, you don’t see too much “charity” in her at all, although you definitely do in her story in book 2, A Passion Redeemed. And finally, irony once again plays a hand in the name of Faith’s twin, Hope, who dies of polio at the age of eight. Although Faith’s “hope” is snuffed out after the death of her sister, her hope is revived in A Passion Most Pure through her faith in

Out of all of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?

A Passion Redeemed is Charity’s story—the sister everybody loves to hate—but I have to tell you, it is my FAVORITE of all three books in the series! Charity is sooo wonderfully flawed, that she was a real pleasure to redeem. And in answer to all the readers who have e-mailed that they wanted to slap Charity, rest assured that she gets hers in A Passion Redeemed and then some!

Who is your favorite author of all time? Did any author’s work in particular influence your writing in this series?

My all-time favorite writer? Grin. Margaret Mitchell, of course, because Gone With the Wind is the greatest historical novel I’ve ever read, not only for the rich and sweeping Civil War tapestry that Margaret Mitchell created, but for the wonderful impact her haunting love story had on me at a very young age.

I’ll write more later about what I thought about the book. I want to hear your thoughts first without any bias from my review. Hope you at least enjoyed the read.


  1. Thanks for answering our questions, Julie! I laughed at your answer about your inspiration to characters. I think that if I were ever to write, that would be how I would do it. I just don't know that I could write a dynamic character that is completely unlike me.

    A couple more questions for you, Julie:

    Did you plan on writing a trilogy when you first started?
    What is your personal story with faith?

  2. Hi Ronnica,

    Mmmm ... we might be kindred sisters -- are you as much of a "character" as I am? If so, we sound like we would have a blast together!

    No, I never planned on writing a trilogy when I started, but the family became such a part of my life and who I was, that I couldn't let go. And honestly, I absolutely LOVE Charity (even though I have had readers who wanted her "maimed or killed), so I realllly wanted to write her story. Blame it on my total fascination with women like Scarlett O'Hara, I guess, but I just KNEW Charity would be a pistol to write about, and if you choose to read her story in book 2, you will see what I mean.

    My personal story of faith? I was a 23-year-old hardnosed agnostic from a devout but dysfunctional Catholic family of 13 kids. I was so angry at God that I actually used to say I wanted to burn Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. As a wild child of the 60s and 70s, I tried everything to be happy—from astrology and tarot cards … to transcendental meditation and witchcraft—you name it. My vocabulary would have made a sailor blush. Suffice it to say that I was pretty angry at God. According to the world’s standards, I had everything going for me—a hunky boyfriend with a Corvette and a boat, a great job, my own apartment (at a time when other friends still lived at home), and I was acing an advanced writing course at Washington U., a prestigious college in St. Louis. But I wasn’t happy. I felt a lot like Peggy Lee singing, “Is that all there is?”

    Then one day, this annoying gal at work approached me. She had a lesser job than me, was divorced with a kid and no boyfriend in sight. I hated her because she came in humming every day, happy as a lark while I was utterly miserable. And then it happened—one life-altering moment when she and I were alone—I looked up from my typewriter and said, “Just what in the heck (except my language was a bit saltier back then) makes you so happy all the time?” She said, “I’ve been praying you would ask.”

    Oh, no, a Jesus freak, I thought to myself, but I found myself going to lunch with her, badgering her with questions and accusations. I don’t remember now if it was weeks or months, but either way, I met Jesus Christ through the remarkable patience of a God-sent angel by the name of Joy—pretty appropriate name, eh?


Thanks for joining our discussion of this book!

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