SAINT MAGGIE By Janet R. Stafford, a Review by Joan Adamak

Christians come in various human postures
This is a simple story set in pre-Civil war times about a sincere, religious Christian lady, Maggie, with two teenage daughters, Libby and Frankie, who has been widowed ten years.  Because she came from a wealthy family who had influence in the town of Blaineton and she married a man considered by her family to be socially beneath her, when he died, her brother Samuel chose to continually criticize her, and gave her no help.  As a result in order to support herself and the girls, she took a large house and converted it into a boardinghouse, plus a residence for her family.  She also took in a Negro couple, Nate and Emily, to help her and had three odd boarders, plus Eli Smith, an editor, whom she eventually married.

Maggie was the type of Christian who considered God in her every thought and action and the town was primarily Christian oriented, at least they wore that type of veneer.  There was gossip about Maggie because the town folks felt she had such weird boarders.  A handsome, charismatic young man, Jeremiah Madison came to town to be the pastor in Maggie’s church.  He also boarded with Maggie, but it concerned Maggie that all of the young women were so entranced by him and she felt he was a little liberal in his embracing them.  But Maggie put her faith in God that all was right.

Now add to that Maggie falling in love, her concern about this pastor and these young girls, her flaunting in allowing a Black couple to live on her premises, and then secretly taking in Black people as part of the underground railroad.  Then stir in Maggie’s beautiful spoiled niece who set her cap for Jeremiath, and married him but is forced to live with him at the boarding house, which is way beneath her social standing became extremely cranky and weepy, making everyone miserable.  Add another teenage girl who was formerly her maid, and now also lived at Maggie’s to take care of the niece.  Add miscarriages, illness and murder, with much Christian soul searching, and you have an interesting tale of human nature at its best and worse.  It is an enjoyable read.
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