Book Review: Pride’s Children: Purgatory by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt (Four Stars)


Book Review: Pride’s Children: Purgatory (Book One of the Trilogy) by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

(Four Stars)

“Make God laugh. Tell Him yer plans.”

Wow. This is really good. Regular readers know I warn against rating books in genres I avoid. I’m breaking that rule here because the author asked for my thoughts and the book is that good. Naïve readers pass over this as Chick Lit; it most assuredly is not. This is a deep and real dive into the lives of several people with wants and needs which sometimes coincide and sometimes conflict. Well-developed and well-told.

“I forgave him a long time ago.” “Why?” “Because it only hurts me not to? It took longer to forgive myself.”

It’s the characters who make the story work. Good inner focus and dialogue and self-depreciating humor. Feels real. The reader comes to care about even those whose motives and methods are base.

“She dissected the obsession with a writer’s objectivity, encased it in a Zen bubble exiled to the outermost limit of herself.

Kary needs professional help. Not only for her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so intimately described that one suspects Ehrhardt is personally acquainted with a sufferer, but also her inner struggles. That she is damaged even she will admit. Her coping is heroic and slightly futile.

“Think carefully before you speak: you can be forgiven, maybe, for your words–but you can never unsay them.”

One jarring feature is the use, by a female character, of trigger words (some of which are being aired in 2018) in her inner dialogue about other women. It’s in character for this person, but it jars the reader and, like the person involved, pushes the PG-13 rating the author self-applied. It’s authentic, but a gentler approach is possible.

“A true man must own/even the unintended/consequences of choice.” Mizuki

Very literary. Many appropriate twentieth century literary allusions. Epigrams from the Bible, Tahiro Nizuki and Shakespeare. Several fictitious books and movies melded into the mix to enrich the feel of authenticity.

“Reading. Reading. Reading.” said the director. “Such a terrible habit. You do that, the story’s in your head in a few hours … you went ahead and did a little movie in your head.”

In his essay “On Fairy Stories” J. R. R. Tolkien contrasts novels and drama saying, among other things, that reading a story brings the author and the reader into relationship while drama interposes the actors, directors, stage setters, etc. Throughout Purgatory Ehrhardt weaves the same discussion between novels and movies, even those–especially those based on novels.


Why not five stars? I’m no authority on what’s permitted in a story. I assume pretty much everything. But to open with an explosive statement of consequence and then spend the entire book detailing background implies a contract with the reader: that the opening explosion will be addressed. It wasn’t; I felt cheated. I dislike books that just stop with no ending. This is one of those. Cost her a star. Yes, she told us it was part of a trilogy, but not that it was the first third of a single story. Still, worth reading.

“The shock of discovery was replaced by an intensity of yearning for the moment to last forever.”

(The reviewer received a free copy of the work in exchange for an honest review.)