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Rivers, Francine 1947-

Rivers, Francine 1947-
(Francine Sandra Rivers)


PERSONAL:

Born May 12, 1947, in Berkeley, CA; daughter of Everett Melbourne, Sr. (a coroner) and Wilfrieda Mathilda (a nurse); married Richard (Rick) William Rivers (a business executive), December 21, 1969; children: Trevor William, Shannon Moriah, Travis Richard. Education: University of Nebraska, B. A., 1969; California State University, Hayward, teaching credential, 1974. Politics: Democrat. Religion: United Methodist.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Zondervan, 5300 Patterson S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530.

CAREER:

Pleasanton Times, Pleasanton, CA, reporter, summer, 1967; City of Pleasanton, playground director, summer, 1968; Transinternational Airlines, Oakland, CA, stewardess, 1969; California Lung Association, Oakland, secretary, 1970-73; substitute teacher in Oakland, 1974; Alameda Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA, preschool teacher, 1974-77; freelance writer, 1977—. Has also worked as a lifeguard, waitress, and research librarian assistant; worked with the Special Case Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

MEMBER:

International PEN, Romance Writers of America, Western Writers of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Western Romance Award, Romance Times, and Bronze Porgie Award, West Coast Review of Books, both 1984, both for Sarina; Rita Award for best inspirational romance, Romance Writers of America, 1995, for An Echo in the Darkness, for best inspirational romance, 1996, for As Sure as the Dawn, and for best inspirational romance, 1997, for The Scarlet Thread; ECPA Gold Medallion Award; Christy Award.

WRITINGS:


NOVELS


Kathleen, Jove (New York, NY), 1979.

Sycamore Hill, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1981.

Rebel in His Arms, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1981.

This Golden Valley, Jove (New York, NY), 1983.

Sarina, Jove (New York, NY), 1983.

Hearts Divided, Jove (New York, NY), 1983.

Heart in Hiding, Jove (New York, NY), 1984.

Pagan Heart, Jove (New York, NY), 1985.

Not So Wild a Dream, Jove (New York, NY), 1985.

Redeeming Love, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1991.

The Shoe Box: A Christmas Story, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1995.

The Scarlet Thread, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1996.

The Atonement Child, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1997.

The Last Sin Eater, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1998.

Leota's Garden, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1999.

And the Shofar Blew, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2003.

"MARK OF THE LION" TRILOGY


A Voice in the Wind, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1993.

An Echo in the Darkness, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1994.

As Sure as the Dawn, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1995.

"LINEAGE OF GRACE" SERIES


Unveiled, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

Unashamed, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

Unshaken, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2001.

Unspoken, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2001.

Unafraid, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2001.

"SONS OF ENCOURAGEMENT" SERIES


The Priest, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2004.

The Prince, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

The Warrior, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

The Prophet, Tyndale House (Carol Stream, IL), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

After writing a number of successful historical romance novels, Francine Rivers became a born-again Christian in 1986 and changed the course of her writing career. Dropping the sometimes-steamy genre she had been associated with, Rivers turned to writing religious historical romances. Rivers's religious novels "enjoy steady sales of upwards of 80,000 copies," according to Andrea Sachs in Time. Rivers told Sachs that in her religious romance novels, she writes of a love triangle: "The man and the woman and also their relationship with God."

Her "Mark of the Lion" series of historical novels, set in ancient Rome and concerning the persecution of the early Christians, has proven remarkably popular with readers of Christian fiction. With The Scarlet Thread, Rivers moved from the ancient past to present-day California to tell the story of a woman named Sierra. When Sierra's husband gets a new job in Los Angeles, the family must move from their familiar surroundings. Worse, Sierra's husband "goes off the deep end … buying BMWs and having affairs with debutantes," as John Mort explained in Booklist. Meanwhile, Sierra finds a diary written by a female ancestor named Mary Kathryn McMurray, an early pioneer in the California territory. Like Sierra, Mary has seemingly overwhelming problems but responds to them with a deep faith in God. Following her ancestor's example, Sierra finds her own peace as well. Although Mort believed the "two plot lines never peacefully coexist," he concluded that "Rivers lays out her scenes so authentically that she is, as always, worth reading." Hispanic, Native American, and European cultural differences are highlighted through Sierra's family members who are from different ethnic backgrounds.

In The Atonement Child, college student Dynah Carey is attacked and raped while walking home from work. In the aftermath of the assault, Dynah's faith in God begins to falter. She is expelled from her Christian college because she is pregnant and unwed, despite the reason behind her circumstances. She calls off her engagement and goes back home, where she finds that her family is conflicted over how she should handle the situation—some call for an immediate abortion while others argue for a more temperate approach. In the end, Dynah realizes that the choice must be hers alone, and that choice does not include aborting the baby that grows inside her. Rivers emphasizes the Christian elements of Dynah's decision and portrays the infant as an "atonement child" for an abortion that Dynah's mother had earlier in her life. Library Journal reviewer Melissa Hudak called the novel a "compelling and dramatic look at the issue that offers surprisingly little preaching." Rivers "gets high marks for her portrait of the agony of Dynah" and of the mechanisms and personal politics of abortion, asserted Booklist reviewer Mort.

Leota's Garden tells the story of eighty-four-year-old Leota, a woman whose family has been broken apart by unreasonable demands and uncontrolled misunderstandings. After eighteen years of estrangement, and despite her mother's demands otherwise, Leota's granddaughter Annie decides to become involved in her grandmother's life again. When college student Corban Solsek agrees to help Leota once a week as part of a research project, the three main characters unite to renovate Leota's backyard garden, a project with metaphorical meaning in the restoration of decayed relationships and broken connections with things that matter. Melanie C. Duncan, writing in Library Journal, described the novel as an "emotionally compelling story." Rivers's story offers a "world full of vibrant characters with a powerful story," concluded a reviewer in Marriage Partnership.

And the Shofar Blew is a "powerful parable" about a small-town church in central California, populated by a dwindling group of elderly members. When new pastor Paul Hudson arrives at the church, however, his presence and enthusiasm are so powerful that he brings in many new members. Hudson's ministry is so successful that it is necessary to build a new church to accommodate all the new members. Though Hudson's aims seem to be all for the good, it soon becomes apparent that he has lost touch with the original members as he works to please the new ones—worse, it also seems as though he has lost sight of the real function of a church. Rivers examines questions that "ring loud and clear if only within church circles," observed Mort in another Booklist review.

Rivers's "Lineage of Grace" series chronicles the lives of a number of women "in the lineage of Jesus Christ," noted a biographer on Faithfulreader.com. Unveiled tells the story of Tamar in Rivers's "trademark style," showing how the grace of God affected Tamar and her father-in-law, Judah, noted a reviewer in Christian Reader. Tamar, a Caananite, is depicted as being victimized by her monstrous husbands, Er and Onan, who are both killed by God before Tamar could have children. Eventually, she places her faith in the God of the Hebrews.

Unashamed recounts the story of Rahab, while Unshaken concerns the story of Ruth. Expanding on the biblical account of Ruth, Rivers adds additional dialogue, characters, and events. She delves into the emotional and social aspects of Ruth and Boaz's courtship, and even addresses the sexual tensions that must surely have been present during even ancient courtships. Rivers's account "capably balances faithfulness to Scripture and historical accuracy," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor, who also noted that as an inspirational and devotional project, Rivers's work "achieves its goals admirably." Unspoken retells the familiar story of Bathsheba and her relationship with David, and the final book in the series, Unafraid, concerns perhaps the Bible's most famous female, Mary, mother of Jesus. Rivers's story adds a human dimension to the Madonna-like Mary most often depicted in art and text. She emerges from Rivers's work as an "unwed pregnant teenager thrilled that the long-awaited Messiah will come from her," but confused at people's unwillingness to believe her story of a visitation from an angel of the Lord, noted Duncan in another Library Journal review. When Jesus is born, he becomes Mary's object of focus as she comes to understand her role in Jesus's life and how he was never really hers; instead, she served as the means by which "God worked his grace," Duncan commented.

In another series, the "Sons of Encouragement," Rivers turns her attention to a number of lesser-known biblical men of faith. The Priest concerns Aaron, brother of Moses, and his struggle to accept his place in the shadow of the history-altering role played by his brother. Despite what seems like a secondary role, Aaron fully experienced the grace of God through support of Moses and adherence to faith, noted a reviewer in Today's Christian Woman. The Warrior retells the story of Caleb, Joshua's second-in-command and an important player in the Exodus. Through their faith, loyalty to God, and determination, Joshua and Caleb help the Hebrews eventually arrive in the promised land. Tamara Butler, reviewing The Warrior in Library Jour-nal, observed that Rivers's "biblical fiction is quick and action packed with appeal for both male and female readers."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


PERIODICALS


Booklist, October 15, 1994, John Mort, review of An Echo in the Darkness, p. 401; January 1, 1996, John Mort, review of The Scarlet Thread, p. 787; March 1, 1997, John Mort, review of The Atonement Child, p. 1111; December 1, 1998, John Mort, review of The Last Sin-Eater, p. 659; January 1, 1999, review of The Last Sin-Eater, p. 781; August, 2000, John Mort, review of Unveiled, p. 2110; September 15, 2001, Nina C. Davis, review of Unshaken, p. 206; October 1, 2001, Joyce Saricks, review of Redeeming Love, p. 343; June 1, 2003, John Mort, "Christian Fiction," review of And the Shofar Blew, p. 1740.

Christian Reader, September, 2000, review of Unveiled, p. 6; March, 2001, review of Unashamed, p. 6.

Library Bookwatch, August, 2004, review of And the Shofar Blew.

Library Journal, February 1, 1997, Melissa Hudak, review of The Atonement Child, p. 68; November 1, 1997, Melissa Hudak, review of Redeeming Love, p. 66; September 1, 1999, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Leota's Garden, p. 174; November 1, 2001, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Unafraid, p. 76; February 1, 2005, Tamara Butler, review of The Warrior, p. 62.

Marriage Partnership, summer, 2000, review of Leota's Garden, p. S4.

Publishers Weekly, February 5, 2001, review of Unshaken, p. 67; September 10, 2001, review of Unafraid, p. 60.

Time, November 13, 1995, Andrea Sachs, review of As Sure as the Dawn, p. 105.

Today's Christian Woman, September, 2001, review of Unspoken, p. S4; May-June, 2004, "Oh, Brother! Francine Rivers's New Series Explores the Lives of Biblical Men of Faith," p. 17; July-August, 2004, review of The Priest, p. 22.

ONLINE


Faithfulreader.com,http://www.faithfulreader.com/ (May 8, 2006), biography of Francine Rivers.

Francine Rivers Home page,http://www.francinerivers.com (May 8, 2006).

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