Review: The Sinner’s Guide to Confession

The Sinner's Guide to Confession Cover

Title: The Sinner’s Guide to Confession

Author: Phyllis Scheiber

# of Pages: 384

Release Date: 7/1/2008

ISBN: 9780425221532

Rating: 4/5

Barbara, Ellen, and Kaye are longtime friends, yet they all have secrets they are keeping from one another.  Barbara, a widowed mother of three adult children, is hiding the fact that she writes erotica in addition to the romance novels that everyone knows about.  Kaye is hiding the fact that she is in the midst of a great relationship with a man who loves her, makes her feel beautiful, and gives her the best sex of her life – a man other than her faithful husband.  And Ellen, who recently lost her husband to a much younger woman, has kept the secret of a daughter she was forced to give up for adoption at age sixteen from her friends for years.  But when Ellen’s father passes away, she is reunited with the family she despises, and comes to the realization that she needs to find her daughter – the true family she never had.  Only her best friends can help her, and it is in this search that the women reveal more of themselves to one another than they ever had before.

The Sinner’s Guide to Confession is a fantastic book about the power that womens’ friendships can have in each others’ lives.  I am always inclined to read books about groups of women, especially when the topics focus on the friendships between them and how important those friendships are to the women involved.  This novel absolutely fell into that category.  Barbara, Ellen, and Kaye have been friends for a long time and truly depend on one another for comfort and love, yet their friendships are far from perfect.  They can be cruel to one another, they hide things from each other, and they don’t always give each other the support necessary.  Yet, when it came down to it, when Ellen was faced with a real tragedy, Kaye and Barbara did not blink an eye before committing to stand by her for whatever she needed.  

While the women in the novel are a little older than I am (their children are my age), I did relate to them on some level.  My friendships with my girlfriends are an important part of my own life, and I also have a group of women that I’ve been friends with for years.  We don’t keep monumental secrets from one another, and the women in the book were a little harder on each other than my friends and I are, but when we truly need each other, my girlfriends are always there – just as Barbara and Kaye were for Ellen.  I think the characters in this novel may resonate more with women in their 40’s than they did with me, but I still appreciated them and felt for what they were each going through – I just think I may be a little young to fully understand these characters.

Overall, I enjoyed The Sinner’s Guide to Confession.  It is a powerful book about how important friendships can be, and also about how devastating secrets can be to one’s life.  While the themes in the book may be a bit heavy, the writing itself is not, and it was easy to get through and very readable.  I will be watching for more of Scheiber and looking forward to reading more by her.

Other reviews: 



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10 thoughts on “Review: The Sinner’s Guide to Confession”

  1. I’m younger than the main characters in this book, but I love the fact that these women are friends through it all and that they are there for one another when they have to be and when they don’t. I think it sends a strong message to women that we should be more caring about one another and our flaws. I loved this book and was also part of the tour.

  2. Thank you Heather for a well written and honest review of THE SINNER’S GUIDE TO CONFESSION. I agree that it must be more difficult for a younger woman to relate to the women in this novel, but it is also true that they have much to offer all women. I am certainly a women with flaws, and I am always humbled by the tolerance and love my friends show me. They indulge my eccentricities and weaknesses without complaint! Nevertheless, I an delighted that you enjoyed the novel and found much of it relevant.

    sagustocox, again, thanks to you for your response. Where would we be without our women friends? I would be lost!

    Diane, I am so glad the title intrigued you. There was a lot of drama over the title. I must confess that it was not my original title, but I am glad everyone agreed to it. The title has certainly generated quite a bit of response.

    bermudaonion, now that’s a “title” I would certainly like to know more about. Clearly, I also love books about women. My last book, WILLING SPIRITS, will be rereleased in paperback this March. I think you will like it as well.

    Chelsea, In response to your question, the answer is yes! The title is taken from book. I am fairly certain I address that on one of my tour stops. You can read the book and discover the title’s origin for yourself!

    Staci, I hope you will let me know what you think of the book after you read it. I agree; Heather wrote a terrific review. Thanks again, Heather!

  3. I’ve been thinking about the age thing in the book and while I’m 40’ish, I could appreciate the reasons I feel these women felt they needed to keep these secrets even from their best friends. While women in their 20’s and 30’s have had the freedom to be more open about this sort of thing – the women in their 40s and 50s and beyond were “taught” these things were not something you talked about.

    But, I like that Phyllis has given a wide range of women the chance to see how society has had an impact on other women – who cleared the way (so to speak) for freedoms that are enjoyed by many today. I know what I’m trying to say, but not sure it came across right 🙂

    It is also a way for women to understand how much the “world” has changed in the last 20 to 30 years – I saw that difference in opinion in a lot of the election coverage. We saw women in awe that Hillary Clinton had the guts to run for president and we saw women who didn’t see it as that big a deal. Was that distinction along generational lines or something else? Maybe that’s too off topic for today 🙂

    Nikki Leigh

  4. I don’t think it’s off topic at all, Nikki. Women in their fifties, like me, took for granted much that wasn’t possible in our mother’s generation. Birth control gave my generation a freedom that was inaccessible to our mothers. I think Ellen’s need to keep Faith’s existence secret is very generational. I think I mentioned in a previous blog that many women have confessed that the very same thing happened to them or to a sister or friend. Now we have Sara Palin’s eighteen-year-old daughter pregnant, married and a mother on national television. Moreover, if she had not married the young boy, it would have been equally accepted.
    In spite of all this, my intent was more to highlight how hard it is to reveal ourselves, even to our closest friends. I have my secrets, and I intend to keep them.

  5. I’ve been doing the rounds for this blog tour and reading everyone’s reviews with interest. Who can resist a good book about women’s friendships and secrets? It really sounds great!

  6. Great review! I’m nearing the end of this book now (my review will be up Friday) and I’m enjoying it. Even though I’m around the same age as their children, I’m also finding that I can relate to the main characters on some level.

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