Following the rule, Emma Myles
Penguin Random House
This awe-inspiring novel keeps you reading till the very last word, your anticipation is at its peak as you finish the final sentence. This story leaves you questioning the many different scenarios even after the last words have been read.
Being Magdalene is a heart-felt story of a young girl, Magdalene, who is trapped in the religious cult, The Children of the Faith, based in Nelson. It is run by evil Elder Stephen who believes he speaks from the lord. “The rule” is said to protect all members and will guide them on the path to salvation. Every member leads a busy lifestyle, but not as we know it. The countless orders that the members must obey separate them from anything we perceive as normal. Girls must be obedient, godly and modest, wearing their headscarves at all times, women must obey their husbands. Simple acts such as running or having a worldly education are considered dangerous to the soul and sinful. Men must earn the money for the family as they set off to work in businesses run by the faith, and the women are set to keep the Elders content by cleaning, cooking and running the household. All decisions must be made through “searching the soul and praying to the lord.” Any act which seems “ungodly” or “immodest” will result in spending days in the discipline room where meals are limited and scripture is demanded to be learnt.
These quotations are well-chosen to illustrate the point, and well-integrated as they are made a seamless part of the reviewer’s own sentence.
Editor’s note: Close
Twelve year-old Magdalene, younger sister Zillah and brother Luke, along with married sister Rachel, are the only Pilgrim children left in the faith. Years have passed since the others were cast out for acts considered sinful, whereas you and I would consider these to be ordinary aspirations in life. They were deemed dead and damned, but these children know the truth. For now, they obey the rule and acknowledge the silent warnings from Elder Stephen as he fires revenge. Magdalene’s life begins falling to pieces as she fights to protect her much-loved sister. As the tension builds and the truth is released, Magdalene is driven to do what she knows is best.
Being Magdalene, by Fleur Beale, is the third book in the I am not Esther series. Beale writes this novel with a large sense of family in mind, and this is reflected in many of the characters. The way that Beale describes the characters gives one a clear visualisation of exactly who each is. This story is articulate and declamatory as the author writes in a diverse style to show the true colours of each and every character. When Beale describes Magdalene, it is easy to picture her in your mind as you follow the comforting but dreary girl through the gripping events. The amount of detail and work which has been put into this story provides a dynamic sense of the emotional and engaging ideas which influence the setting, characters, actions and plot. Being Magdalene definitely delivered the complex ending this series deserved and brought tears, happiness, fear and a lot of overwhelming thoughts. I highly recommend Being Magdalene for people of various ages and I can guarantee you will not forget this story in a hurry.
Emma Myles is year 10 at Burnside High School, Christchurch.