It’s All About the Journey, Not the Destination in The Book of Strange New Things

October 10, 2014 Book Review 12

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

It’s All About the Journey, Not the Destination in The Book of Strange New ThingsThe Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
Published by Crown Publishing Group on October 28th, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 512
Source: complimentary review copy


A week later and I still cannot quit thinking about this book!  The Book of Strange New Things encapsulates so many things – it’s a book about marriage, a testament to our human-ness, an evaluation of society, a snapshot into the life of a spiritual man – what makes his faith endure while his wife’s faith crumbles.  You will probably hear that this book is genre-bending, and while it is of a sort, I would phrase it more as literary fiction that must be read by everyone.

Peter has overcome a life of homelessness, alcoholism and drug abuse, turning his life so completely around with the help of his wife, Beatrice, to where he is a much-beloved pastor.  Beatrice works as a nurse {that’s how they met} and they both serve their congregation with utter devotion and love.  When Peter is approached to join a mission into another galaxy bringing the Word of God to its inhabitants, he jumps at the chance even though he will be separated from his beloved wife for several months.

Peter is both incredibly selfish and exceptionally giving.  Michel Faber reveals in subtle nuance the ways in which we take those we love most for granted.  And how in a marriage, things get left unsaid that should be said. . .from the opening sentence of “I was going to say something,”  to the devastating words from Bea “I am alone and frightened and married to a missionary who’s going to tell me that the fool has said in his heart there is no God. . .”

About half-way through when I was anxious to see how the story would end I had an epiphany.  It didn’t matter how The Book of Strange New Things ended.  What mattered was the journey.  It is incredible to me what Michel Faber has accomplished with this book.  It is both a testament to living our life and to appreciating the journey as opposed to hurrying to read the last page {live the experience – go through the fire to get to the other side a better person, or not}.

The Book of Strange New Things told in both letters between Beatrice and Peter and from Peter’s perspective is a moving account of life – what it means to live, to love and to be human.  Don’t miss this one.

An aside – please don’t be put off by the Christianity in this book.  Faber handles Peter’s faith deftly, both with precision and objectively, not at all persuasively.  It just is.  Also, has anyone read/heard if there will be a sequel?

And let’s talk about the cover!  Have you seen the gilt-edged pages? Just like a beautiful, leather-bound Bible?  And the hands reaching for each other or are they letting go? the black cover, the stars – even the red backing with “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  Whew! I can’t say enough about this book – message me if you’ve read it and let’s talk!

What is the last book you read that left you pondering days later?

12 Responses to “It’s All About the Journey, Not the Destination in The Book of Strange New Things”

    • Stacy

      Oh I’m so glad you reminded me of The Sparrow! After listening to Books on the Nightstand podcast where Michael raved about this book as well and brought up The Sparrow I meant to order it and of course it slipped my mind! Definitely ordering it right now! Did you enjoy The Sparrow? both Michael and Ann raved about it – if it’s even half as good as The Book of Strange New Things then I know I will love it! Happy weekend Leah!
      Stacy recently posted…Kindness Makes All the DifferenceMy Profile

    • Stacy

      oh I heard that as well. Explains the depth of emotion and loss in this one. The Book of Strange New Things is definitely my fave book of the year so far and I want to read his other books but I’m so scared to! I’ve heard this one is so unique and a departure from anything he’s ever written. Have you read any of his other novels?
      Stacy recently posted…Kindness Makes All the DifferenceMy Profile

  1. Paper Boat Sailor

    Thanks for this review! I’ve been searching for Michel Faber’s writing ever since I read his short story in an issue of Granta years ago. It was called Bye bye Natalia, and his writing style and voice really captivated me, but I never found anything else by him in India where I used to live at the time.
    I’ll definitely get a copy of this novel. It’s been too long!
    Paper Boat Sailor recently posted…Searching Jaffna for the Signs of WarMy Profile

    • Stacy

      Oh I’m so glad! Not only another Michel Faber enthusiast but someone who found because of Michel Faber! It sounds like you are no longer in India? Do you have access to a wider variety of books now?

      I’ve ordered The Fire Gospel that sounds really good and I’m looking for the short story you mentioned, Bye Bye Natalia. You’re spot on – Faber has a unique way of drawing you in to the story. Love his writing style!

      • Paper Boat Sailor

        I live in the Middle East now, and if possible, it’s even harder to find books by certain authors here. There is more censorship here after all.
        But I do have a friend visiting from the US, so of course I went ahead and ordered Strange New Things on Amazon, and he’ll be bringing it to me shortly. 😀
        Paper Boat Sailor recently posted…Searching Jaffna for the Signs of WarMy Profile

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