G556 Book Review of Visiting the Sins by Melanie Denman

Name of Book: Visiting the Sins

Author: Melanie Denman

ISBN: 978-1-59571-926-3

Publisher: Word Association Publishers

Type of book: mother/daughter, East Texas, faith, relationships, beauty pageants, sinning, wealth, fitting in, small community, sacrifices, 1930s to 2000s, trying to get along, family

Year it was published: 2015


In her riotous debut novel, which was awarded the 2014 bronze IPPY for Regional Southern Fiction, Melanie Denman probes the silent sacrifices of motherhood with unflinching honesty and warmhearted amusement. Set in the Bible Belt of Deep East Texas, Visiting the Sins is a darkly funny story about mothers and daughters, naked ambition, elusive redemption, and all the torment it's possible to inflict in the name of family.

Down through the decades, the lofty social aspirations of the feisty but perennially dissatisfied Wheeler women - Pokey, the love-starved, pistol-packing matriarch; Rebanelle, the frosty former beauty queen turned church organist; and Curtis Jean, the backsliding gospel singer - are exceeded only by their unfortunate taste in men and a seemingly boundless capacity for holding grudges. A legacy of feuding and scandal lurches from one generation to the next with tragic consequences that threaten to destroy everything the Wheeler women have sacrificed their souls to build.


The main characters are Pauline Pokey, Rebanelle "Nell" and Curtis Jean, although out of those three, the story focuses a lot on Curtis Jean. Pauline is the fearless grandmother who has lived a wild and unconventional life in Calcotte Texas, and she is a strong matriarch of the family. She has only one daughter, Rebanelle and between the two there seems to be no end of tension. Rebanelle "Nell" is the daughter, and she is obsessed with becoming a beauty queen and often dreams for Curtis Jean to be Miss Texas. There is even a tradition of them watching beauty contests and trying to figure out the next Miss Texas. She has also suffered a lot through her life and has some surprising secrets and lessons to teach Curtis Jean. Curtis Jean is the daughter who wants to get her own daughter back from her ex-husband. She becomes extremely religious, is worried a lot about sinning, and tries to turn negative into positive instances. She has tumultuous relationships with the mother and grandmother.


Relationship is stronger than blood?


The story is written in first person narrative from Pauline "Pokey's", Rebanelle "Nelle's", Curtis Jean's, Alice Anna's and Patricia's points of view. The stories frequently go back and forth between different times, mostly the adulthood and childhood and the moments that shaped them into the women they are. While I enjoyed learning about East Texas culture and being with the women, I feel that the drawback is I'm not sure what message I should have gleaned from the book.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Melanie Denman
About the Author:

Melanie Denman is a native of Nacogdoches, Texas and a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University. An eighth-generation Texan, and a former banker and cattle rancher, she currently lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is working on a second novel.

Connect with Melanie:  Website  ~  Facebook  


In a good way, this is really an odd duck of a novel; it reads as a mixture of a lot of short stories, and in many cases I was tempted to title the brief vignettes, (maybe I should have done that, for fun.) at the same time though, the novel explores the lives and loves and relationships of three strong women, that of Pauline "Pokey,", Rebanelle "Nell", and the granddaughter Curtis Jean. The stories go back and forth very frequently, and sometimes few other characters, namely Patricia and her daughter Alice Ann also talk about the three women, or else comment on them. The book really reminded me of Anne Leigh Parrish's Our Love Could Light the World as well as Then like the Blind Man, at least in terms of women and the mother in that book. Since I grew up in Dallas Texas area which is very far from rural areas, I'm not sure of the accuracy of the speech, but it is an entertaining yarn.

This is for iRead Book Tours

Tour Schedule:

March 23 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
March 23 - Coffee, Books & Art - book spotlight / giveaway
March 23 - Horror Maiden's Book Reviews - review
March 24 - Confessions of a Reader - book spotlight
March 24 - Room With Books - review / author interview / giveaway
March 24 - XoXo Book Blog - book spotlight / giveaway
March 25 - Booknerd - review
March 25 - Pinky's Favorite Reads - book spotlight
March 26 - Tragically Dull Adventures of An Almost Librarian - review
March 26 - View From the Birdhouse - review / guest post / giveaway
March 27 - Green & Glassie - review / author interview / giveaway
March 29 - The Autistic Gamer - review 
March 30 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
March 30 - Deal Sharing Aunt - review / giveaway
March 31 - L. Shaw Goodreads - review 
March 31 - Life with Katie - review 
April 1 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
April 2 - Cici's Theories - review / guest post / giveaway
April 2 - For Life After... - review
April 3 - Totally Addicted to Reading - book spotlight / giveaway
April 3 - Back Porchervations - review / giveaway
April 7 - Bookfan - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 8 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / giveaway
April 8 - Nighttime Reading Center - author interview
April 8 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
April 9 - Allthingsbookie - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 9 - Storeybook Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 10 - Cat's Reviews - review / giveaway
April 13 - Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author - book spotlight / giveaway
April 14 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
April 15 - A Blue Million Books - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 16 - The Things We Read - review
April 17 - Jessica Cassidy - review
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


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