Reviews of Ash Wednesday

Who better to write about the trials and tribulations of churchgoers than a minister? Ash Wednesday is a thoughtful, humorous and touching look at some of our society's thorniest questions—such as sex and the price of ambition—and the faith-based community's varied responses to them. Expect some surprises.
Milwaukee Shepherd Express

Faith is important, but at what cost of sanity? With humor and a unique view of faith, Ash Wednesday is a fine read, very much recommended.
Midwest Book Review

As faithful readers of Garrison Keillor, J.F. Powers and Jon Hassler know (and not to mention Ned Flanders here), no fiction captures both the comic and broken nature of human beings quite like a church story. Set in Dustin, Pa., "a place to pass through, a town enduring its insidious demise," Ash Wednesday features one old-fashioned pastor who drinks too much and a second minister with a pesky adultery problem, a "self-appointed” librarian and busybody, rebellious church leaders and the possible blessing of a gay couple.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I found Eppley’s writing sharp and page-turning. It was hard to put down. The book is full of satire and pathos. What I found I enjoyed most about the book was Eppley’s way of intertwining the many colorful characters. He artfully captures the essence of each person and makes them come alive.
Roberta Pierce
The Persistent Voice
Wartburg Theological Seminary

What happens when a small town Lutheran church in rural Pennsylvania has the veil of denial and repression ripped from their eyes and has to face infidelity, homosexuality, alcoholism and the rest of modern life? . . . Ash Wednesday pulls back the curtain on church life with lighthearted humor. Be careful looking back there though-- you may recognize members of your own congregation or even yourself.
The complete review of Ash Wednesday is available here

I know Harold from his nonfiction work and was curious to see how comfortably he would make the move to a new genre. Color me impressed. He had me hooked within pages with his quirky, true-to-life characters; fluid dialogue; dead-on observations about the peculiar agonies of parish ministry; and surprising but uncontrived plot. Harold might just be channeling Lorna Landvik. A splendid story well told.
The Reverend Beth Gaede
Acquisitions Editor
The Alban Institute

Excellent! This is one of the most enjoyable novels I've read. The characters are interesting, humorous, authentically vulnerable, flawed, and people we all know and can relate to (or recognize in ourselves). Though fiction, the author provides a very realistic view into the complexities, challenges, and sometimes painful realities of ministry, churches, and human dysfunction. It's a laugh aloud, can't-put-down read. I've recommended this book to many, many people and am eagerly hoping the author will continue to provide his fans with more similarly amusing and thoughtful books well into the future!
The Reverend Maribeth Olson McGoven

This is a warm, winning novel about a small town Lutheran congregation in western Pennsylvania. Speaking as a member of a small town Lutheran congregation in eastern Pennsylvania, I can say that the portrait of life in Dustin, PA, rings true in every respect. Though the book covers serious themes (how should religion adapt to the modern age, how should a traditional community deal with issues like homosexuality and abortion), there is humor in almost every page. I loved it from start to finish, and would recommend it to all readers.
Mac Carlson, Goodreads Reviewer

This was a fun read with many of the challenges facing the Christian church today packed into one page-turning book.

Anyone with a connection to small town America will recognize the characters in this book, and cannot help but laugh at the predicaments they find themselves in.
Dan Boyum

A delicious read. Colorful characters that are so lively and believable. Hilarious, comical and so you will believe it is all about your town and church. I so enjoyed the raucous situations that I laughed outloud. Real, downhome, life as it is, and a great trip!
—Susan Vaillancourt

Ash Wednesday is a great read. Anyone who has ever known a very small town or a very small church will relate to well delivered characters that can be endearing and exasperating all at the same time. The congregation reminds me a little of Garrison Keillor's "Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church" - only perhaps delivered for the cable audience rather than Public Radio.
—The Reverend Pamela M. Marolla

Ash Wednesday is well-written and well-plotted, with some wonderful characters. Harold nailed small town America for me, and what's more, he did it honestly (I think) and lovingly. There are many characters whose flaws are pretty apparent, and yet they are also understandable and lovable and never condescended to. Also, I love good dialogue, and the dialogue in "Ash Wednesday" is snappy, believable, and funny, not strained or too-cute. Finally, the book pulled me along by its story, the characters, and the writing. If you're looking for comparisons, these authors, while not the same, could sit at the same literary table as Harold: J.F. Powers, Jon Hassler, Anne Tyler, and Richard Russo. That's a pretty big compliment, but I also think it's a fair one.
Marty Hultgren

Laugh out loud funny... A highly entertaining novel with outrageous vividly flawed characters. Small town drama at its best and worst, as a struggling minister walks the slippery slope of moral integrity. A must read!!.
Karla Newton

Ash Wednesday is featured on page 45 of the September 2012 issue of M: Milwaukee’s Lifestyle Magazine. You can view the article online here

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