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[Review] The Painted Table by Suzanne Field

Title: The Painted Table
Author: Suzanne Field
Publisher: Thomas Nelson December 3, 2013
Genre: Fiction
Theme: A young woman named Saffee inherits a Norwegian dinner table from family. The table brings memories Saffee would rather forget. 
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 320
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Litfuse Publicity Group for the purpose of review.

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Saffee grew up in a home with a mother tormented by painful childhood memories and psychosis. Saffee's mother Joann, is from a large Norwegian family living in the upper Midwest. Life is harsh, poor, and without tenderness and compassion. When Saffee became an adult a family member gave her a dining table that has been in the family for generations. Saffee is both angry and frightened by it. She identifies the table as being a source of obsession for her mother. The Painted Table begins a journey of sorts for Saffee, in working through her own whispers from the past.

In the last few years several books both fiction and non-fiction have been published in the Christian market with the theme of mental health issues. These books bring to light a topic that was for too long hushed and kept behind a securely locked door. Families did not deal with it, not really, they didn't even talk about "it" amongst themselves. The lack of education of mental health in previous generations was a huge problem, as well as the stigma and shame that was attached to having a family member with a mental health problem. Mental health issues affect all families, no one is excluded or immune. Just as a person can have high blood pressure or high cholesterol; a person can also have anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyper activity, depression, or obsessive compulsive disorder. I'm thankful for writers who write real life events, even in a work of fiction, the theme brings education and hopefully a response of empathy.  
The Painted Table, brings to light other themes, for example:
  • unresolved anger and unforgiveness over multiple generations,
  • aggression and abuse from older siblings over younger siblings, because they are looking for a scapegoat,
  • mental decline in a person who is not treated for a mental disorder,
  • a child's fear of becoming mentally ill because their parent is sick. 
The author uses symbolism in the ancestral table. The table is not a person, it's an object without emotion or thought or soul; however, the family is affected by it as if it is a living breathing entity. I thought this was a brilliant point for the story.
I read the story in ONE day. The story of Joann and Saffee evokes a strong response. I felt swept away with feelings of injustice, empathy, anger. 

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Suzanne Field Thomas Nelson The Painted