It is a consistent pleasure of mine to read and review a Davis Bunn novel. This one takes place in Paris, France. The time is 1923, and although it is springtime, it is also a place where healing and hope is vital. That’s the historical intro. Carry on.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of my favorite experiences when reading a Davis Bunn novel is the moment when I am compelled take a look at myself in the same light that I view the characters in the story. In The Fragment, the life of young Muriel Ross provides that moment. At twenty-three, Muriel is a researcher for the Smithsonian, specializing in late Roman and early Byzantine antiquities, and reliquaries.
At the request of United States Senator Tom Bryan, she has journeyed from Alexandria, Virginia to post WWI Paris. The senator requires assistance in the documentation of various antiques he is acquiring in the aftermath of the war. Her art history and photography experience qualifies her to properly document every purchase. And that’s the cover story.
The senator’s true purpose leads to Notre Dame Cathedral, where Muriel is tasked to photograph a reliquary containing a fragment of the True Cross. The same cross that the former Roman empress, Helena, mother of Constantine is alleged to have found on her pilgrimage in the early years of the common era. Helena’s story is told in Davis Bunn’s earlier release, The Pilgrim. Similar to Helena, Muriel does not recognize the powerful affect her transformation has on those around her.
Safely behind the lens of her camera, Muriel is astute, insightful and able to see the power of human emotion like joy, sorrow, and hope. She uses that same eye in her observations of the world, and most of the people she meets. But the senator sees potential for greatness in Muriel, a potential she has yet to recognize in herself.
A single affirmative to Bryan’s invitation to do and be more leads to her swift outward transformation from dowdy to darling, just as a beautiful butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. The analogy is appropriate, given her interpersonal conflicts as the adventure commences. While confining, the chrysalis kept her hidden as the transformation ensues. Emergence requires growing into the transformation, being what you have now become.
She has entered into the dangerous world of shadows, where others view her differently than how she still sees herself inside. Muriel is no longer in a chrysalis. The new adventure requires that she keep moving forward, to step fully into her change. She has wings now, but it’s her choice whether or not she will fly.
And that’s the wonderful moment that I recognized is true for me. I recognized my own requirement to do the same. Accept the invitations that come from the people God puts in my path to help me to emerge, they are fragments of His love.
Yes, the story is about a pursuit of a fragment of the cross of Christ. The expression of love that took place on that Cross provides opportunities that could only come through a deliberate sacrifice. As they travel from Paris to Constantinople (Turkey), the opposition, conspiracies, touch of heartbreak, danger and betrayal are inevitable; but there is always victory in the end.
The series pilot of a hit television program sizzles with the promise that lesser programs lack. The experience has the audience demanding more. Likewise, Muriel Ross gives off that same sizzle. She’s the likable all American Nancy Drew, driven and intrepid Lois Lane, reminiscent of Storm Syrell, yet with that unique touch of more that says Muriel won’t be put in the corner either.
I think she’s a comeback heroine, as in “I like the pilot, let’s have more of the show,” or in this case a sequel or two by all means. She has more character to develop and ability to grow. I recommend this book for the story, and for the fragment that will prayerfully pierce your own limitations and allow you to emerge as well.
I received a complimentary advanced reader’s copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Romans 12 tells us to cease identifying His Kingdom with the world. We cannot conform to the mindsets of this generation and be transformed. Transformation come from God, by renewing our minds (sight, perception, and behavior) to His word. Now, having emerged to my own recognition for forward flight, I’m curious about you. Is God calling you to breakout of your chrysalis perception of yourself to take on His thoughts about you?
For that matter, are you willing to challenge yourself to find out just how much of your past you hide behind? It seems that like the time period of the book, today’s world seriously needs people of faith and conviction to emerge from the shadows of this world’s ways.We need to be the ones to help others, yet it takes people of vision to help us emerge too. That’s a call for humility. Remember, it’s our choice to spread our wings and fly. Will you step into your time of greatness? Will you choose to fly? This is the season to do it. Of course, I’m not telling you that you have to. I’m just asking if you will.