The Painted Table

The Painted Table

by Suzanne Field
4.7 9


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The Painted Table by Suzanne Field

The Norwegian table, a century-old heirloom ingrained with family memory, has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forget—a childhood disrupted by her mother’s mental illness.

Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother’s obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint and heavy with unsettling memories.

After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. She must confront her mother’s torment if she wants to defend herself against it.

Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is a beautiful portrait of inherited memory. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifact—like a family member—can bear the marks of one’s past . . . as well as intimations of one’s redemption.

“This difficult but beautiful story of hurt and healing, desperation and hope, offers an intriguing view inside the world of the mentally ill and their loved ones.” —Publishers Weekly

“Describes a descent into darkness [and a] redemptive ascent into light . . . [The Painted Table is a] deeply moving experience.” —Melvin W. Hanna, PhD, author of Mood Food: Nourishing Your God Given Emotions

"[C]ompelling . . . [The Painted Table] point[s] readers toward redemption, the kind that removes all the layers of anesthetic we use to try—and fail—to numb our pain, and replaces them with beauty that can come only through grief and surrender." —

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401689704
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 12/03/2013
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Suzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has also been a magazine editor and home-school teacher.She and her husband have five children and divide their time between Kansas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor.

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The Painted Table 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
PianoLady831 More than 1 year ago
The Painted Table by debut author Suzanne Field is truly a gem, so much so that I hope my simple words will encourage many new readers to discover its wealth. Poignant, compelling, uncomfortable, emotional, relevant, redemptive - these are just a few descriptive terms that quickly come to mind. It was hard to read at times, but impossible to put down at the same time - and Suzanne's writing is exquisite. It also has one of the most moving, joyous endings I've ever read. This is a story that I doubt I'll ever forget. The theme of mental illness is rarely addressed in Christian fiction and Saffee discovers that while friends and neighbors show love and support during many afflictions, mental illness isn't one of them. Suzanne's story is eye opening and gripping with its detail of Joann's gradual path to insanity, its effect on Saffee and her sister April, and Saffee's road to redemption. A hand-crafted Norwegian table, passed down through generations of the Kirkeborg family, becomes the focal point in how Joann's husband, Nels, and daughters relate to her mental illness. As a young child dealing with the loss of her mother, Joann found the table to be a substitute place of comfort. "Under the table Joann had been a child without love. To be a child without love is a transgression." We experience this story through the eyes of Saffee, Joann's daughter, as we literally watch her grow up - wincing at many scenes, while rejoicing at others. I loved how two teachers had such a positive effect on the young Saffee: her 6th grade teacher who made her feel that she was a person of worth, and Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Eilert. In her class "Saffee sings, 'Come into my heart, Lord Jesus' . . . and He does. Even though she has often sought to be alone, she experiences a curious relief that she will never be alone again." Nels was one of my favorite characters, a complex man I came to admire. In the beginning he seems like a husband and father so busy providing for his family that he almost becomes a stranger to them - and a man in constant denial of Joann's illness. But his commitment, love, faithfulness, and desire to protect are qualities we can all look up to. In a conversation with Saffee, Nels explains, "When I married your mother, I promised to stick with her through thick and thin, and I will." If you've ever felt that God worked through someone He placed in your life, then you can relate to this story. God spoke to Saffee through many Scriptures that she read, but husband Jack's words also had a profound effect: "Maybe the best way to honor your mother is not to become like her." Rich in its characterization, realism and spiritual themes, The Painted Table is a novel that I highly recommend to all readers. Best of the best in Christian fiction in my opinion. Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing an electronic copy of The Painted Table in exchange for my honest review.
NanceeMarchinowski More than 1 year ago
Poignant! The "painted table" originated in Norway, handcrafted from a birch tree, and passed down through family generations in America. A child found solace underneath the table, throughout frequent unpleasant experiences, most notably a prairie fire that threatened to burn everything in its wake. Resultant and convoluted events in her life affected Joann's coping mechanisms. She discovered love accompanied by mistrust, bore children left devoid of nurturing and affection, and upon receipt of the table, an obsession with it.  Mentally agonizing memories from time spent beneath the table tormented her, as the table represented constant reminders of her past. Joann's painful existence was focused on the Norway table compelling her to irrationally paint and repaint the table in layers typical of the painful layers of her life. Each layer of paint appeared to intensify her anguish, releasing more irrational behavior. Paranoia presented itself in Joanna's early adulthood, and as told throughout The Painted Table a succession of events intensified into full-blown psychosis and schizophrenia. Suzanne Field painted the layers of her characters comprehensively and with creativity. The development of those characters throughout the book represented a substantive view through the eyes of the mentally ill and those who surrounded her. The anguish these characters experienced was convincing and poignant. The author created expressive, imaginative portrayals of the various environments which gave credence to the believability of the story. I found myself becoming more and more engrossed as the story progressed. The Painted Table is an excellent chronicle of mental illness and its pervasive effects on the afflicted and those closest to them. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received as a result of this review.
MitziAB More than 1 year ago
What does the painted table represent? Is it the safe haven for Joann the motherless child? Is it the stigma of a dysfunctional family for Saffee? Is it an inanimate object with a living memory? It is all of that, but it is also an article of hope and redemption.  The story of Joann and her daughter Saffee are intertwined with the beautifully carved table that was sent from Norway to America to be handed down as an heirloom. But the heritage can only be appreciated by the ones who truly understand what inheritance means. I found this book hard to follow, but only because the very issue of darkness is hard to follow. My heart ached even as I realized that the story was fiction, but very well told fiction involving young daughters and their mothers. If I knew the intimate history and the memories of my mother, would our interaction be different? I think that as was the case for Joann and Saffee, perhaps our perceived memories are some that are not mentioned between family members, and hidden they tend to grow and fester. The golden thread of hope and redemption are spun throughout this novel. I received this book free from Amy at LitfusePulicity Group and Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review. A positive critique was not required. The opinions are my own.
Diana0 More than 1 year ago
The Painted Table By: Suzanne Field Mental illness is very hard to deal with. Then to live with someone who is mental is even harder. It would be very hard to grow up with someone mental in your family like Saffee does. Would be awful to have the feeling this can happen to you will I grow up like her, if I have children can I carry this on to them. One of her mothers obsessions was a table. A table that was painted and painted over many times. A lifetime of memories in each layer of paint. This book is about mental illness and how it affects the whole family. Each layer of paint covers up old memories wanting to be forgotten. Will Saffee be able to remove all those years layers and layers of memories from the table? I fully enjoyed the book. This is a good book for everyone to read. I think it will open some eyes what others might go through.
Bethers More than 1 year ago
The Painted Table is the debut book by author Suzanne Field and WOW.....what a debut book! When I received the information on this book, I felt drawn to read it and I am very glad I did. Joann grew up in a large family and lost her mother at a very young age. Her mother died of mental illness in an asylum, something that haunts Joann from the time she can remember. Joann spends her childhoon hiding under "The Norwegian Table" as her safe place including to keep her safe from a fire. Joann meets and marries Nels. They have a daughter Saffee when Nels is drafted. During leave time Joann gets pregnant again and by the time he is back they have another daughter, April. Saffee is quiet, reserved, and stays to herself. April is the opposite and their mother, Joann is drawn to that. Saffee has always known there was something different about her mother but anytime she asked her dad, he said she was fine so to Saffee this was normal. Eventually "The Norwegian Table" finds its way back into Joann's life and she becomes obsessed. Painting and repainting trying to cover it up and make it new. The Painted Table is a fantastic story about family and mental illness. The Painted Table is a book that shows the effects of mental illness on the whole family and how it affects everyone involved throughout their lives. Our family has history of mental health issues and this book really spoke to me on many levels. Suzanne Field's wrote a beautiful story about something that affects many families for generations. I was drawn into this book from the start, I could not put it down. The Painted Table is a book that takes the reader through an emotional rollercoaster. I found myself laughing in parts and sobbing in others. Suzanne Field's gives readers a real look into mental illness, a topic that has been taboo for a long time. She writes with authority on mental illness, Norway, Norwegian culture, and the world from the Late 1800's -1973. I really felt like I was there watching the story unfold as I read. This is not an easy book to read but it is definitely worth the read! I can't say enough good about it! I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian Fiction or books on mental illness, you will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to read more from Suzanne Field! I give this book 5 STARS. *****
PriscillaTan2 More than 1 year ago
Mental illness is often plagued with stigma. What’s so funny about it? More importantly, why can’t diseases of the brain garner sympathy? The Painted Table by Suzanne Field introduces us to the Quimblys, a family of four. Set in North Dakota, it tells the story of a family heirloom that dates back to 1858. When the patriarch headed off to war, the rest of the Quimblys had a rough start in their earlier years. An uncongenial family, Joann was left alone to care for the girls, Saffee and April. To add more pressure, Nels Quimbly doesn’t trust Joann enough. As taken from a quote from the book, his doubt at sea did damage- a permanent one. Frustrated with Nels’ absence, Joann began to neglect the kids and turn to writing poetry instead. Soon after, Joann’s sister, Evelyn, dies from a heart attack. As a result, the Norwegian table was passed down to the Quimblys. Because the antique table is associated with unhappy childhood memories, Joann views it as a curse. She starts to get hysterical and develops an unhealthy obsession with painting the table. Not very long, a maniac episode caused Joann’s arrest and she was sent to the hospital for treatment. With the girls all grown up- April’s off to Italy and Saffe is happily married to Jack- Nels was left to care for Joann. When the painted table’s given to Saffee, she discovers that Clara, her grandmother, suffered from mania, too. Throughout her journey, Saffee begins to understand and acknowledge what her mother went through. Written from a Christian perspective, The Painted Table is exquisitely written and gives a ponderous look into emotional instability. Memorable quotes: Watch. Listen. Learn. Your life will be different.  I received a complimentary copy of The Painted Table in exchange of my honest review.
JMH33 More than 1 year ago
Families are complicated, sources of great pain and great love. Field has peeled back the layers of paint to reveal forgiveness, redemption and health in her own past. From her revelation, we can take the risk to look at our often mysterious family system and find the same treasures. Read it slowly!
MeganJoyChapman-Author More than 1 year ago
Metal teeth rip through the tree's rough, mottled bark and bite into white cambium - Suzanne Field, The Painted Table. Writing is an painting with words. From this very first sentence of her non cliche novel, I knew I was in for a treat! Poetic, strong, yet flowing words were carefully chosen like brush strokes to a canvas...each highlighting or shading the next. But the darkness to redemption story- gaining victory over the past- is most inspiring. Suzanne Field has created a masterpiece with her novel, The Painted Table. Bravo!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't stop reading! The author tells her story,describing very serious family and personal issues, with a wonderful balance of compassion, humor, understanding, and self discovery. I lauged and I cried and rejoiced.