“Grace in Strange Disguise” (October, 2017, self-published) is Christine Dillon’s latest book and her first work of fiction. The book follows the story of Esther, an Australian physiotherapist who attends a megachurch and appears that she has life all together. Her boyfriend is experiencing career success, they are headed towards engagement and marriage and her days are full of sunshine. When an unexpected diagnoses threatens to darken Esther’s world, her faith, relationships and foundational understanding of who God is are all questioned.
This is a story of strong character, realistic questioning and searching. I really enjoyed reading it and found it relaxing yet also theologically rich to think through issues such as where God is when life comes crashing down around us. The characters, particularly that of Esther lingered on once the last page had been read. Her journey is one I want to continue to read about and I am excited to hear Dillon is making a series from “Grace in Strange Disguise.”
Dillon is passionate about storytelling, as her previous non-fictional works attest, and this is evident in her fictional work. She communicates foundational truths in relatable ways, capturing her readers into the story. The idea of storying, or telling stories from the Bible, a process Dillon is very adept at (see “Telling the Gospel Through Story- Christine Dillon) is generally woven in well. I feel it is always a fine line between authentic integration of theological content and this content sometimes appearing like the reader is being delivered a sermon. Dillon negotiates this well. There was one slight scene when Esther is being taught the process of storying that I felt this may have been a little too heavy, however this is brief and the reader once again gets captured up in the flow of story and the skills Esther is learning to share her faith.
Christine Dillon writes authentic characters, realistic story and grapples with big issues in an accessible way. I have no problem recommending this book as a good read, where you also will emerge feeling like you have grown spiritually through reading it. While I read “Grace in Strange Disguise”, it caused me to question whether my faith is based on my knowledge and trust of God, as he has revealed through scripture, or whether my faith is circumstantial- soaring when life is easy, shaking during the storms.
“Grace in Strange Disguise” can be purchased from The Wandering Bookseller and Koorong. To hear more from Christine, head over to the Pursuits of God podcast, where we chat through her life, her writing and “Grace in Strange Disguise”.