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Lynne Renoir
Leaving Faith, Finding Meaning
Lynne Renoir, author
Lynne Renoir was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1941. She was the eldest daughter of an evangelist who believed every word in the Bible had been dictated by God. This led him to the view that his child had been born in sin, and that it was his duty to belt the devil out of her. The frequent physical punishments Lynne received caused her not only psychological damage but a feeling that she had somehow failed God. This situation led her on a long quest to discover whether she was, in fact, a failure, or whether her father had been mistaken in his beliefs. In pursuing this question, Lynne completed a Master's degree in Psychology, followed by a PhD in Philosophy. She formed the view that her father's behavior was the result of serious deficiencies in his upbringing, together with his absorption of a distorted interpretation of the biblical text. Lynne was motivated to share her findings in two books, God Interrogated: Reinterpreting the Divine, and Leaving Faith, Finding Meaning: A Preacher's Daughter's Search for God. In these works Lynne analyzes the various ways thinkers have researched questions of ultimate reality. She concludes that there is no one correct answer in this complex area of thought, and that different approaches may lead to the kind of transformation that is sought by those who long for meaning in their lives.
Preacher’s daughter Renoir debuts with a harrowing story of abuse punctuated by a happy ending. From her earliest days in 1940s Australia, Renoir was subjected to physical and emotional abuse by her father, learning from a young age that “in the eyes of God and my parents, the only acceptable way for a woman to behave was to be meek, quiet, and submissive.” She found escape from her rigid home life in music, and the unexpected confidence needed to forge a different path, eventually leaving home of her own accord. Renoir candidly details that journey, along with her transformative experience at age 50 that set her on a life-changing course of spiritual awakening.

The descriptions of Renoir’s upbringing are heartrending. Routinely punished by her father (often with a wooden cane) for any perceived disobedience, Renoir eventually grew to hate him—and felt both pity and anger for her browbeaten mother, who did little to shield Renoir and her sisters from their father’s unrelenting abuse. As an adult, Renoir develops an admirable empathy toward her father’s shortcomings, believing them to be a product of his own abusive childhood. That empathy continues when she marries Andrew, also the product of a cruel childhood. The two create a happy marriage together that lasts decades until Andrew’s death, agreeing to not have children out of a belief their upbringings would prevent them from being good parents.

Readers will cheer for the sensitive, talented Renoir as she embraces her full potential, showcasing throughout her life that generational abuse can be overcome through awareness and accepting help. Renoir possesses strength and courage in spades, and prevailing over her past is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Just as her purpose transforms, so, too, does her spirituality, resulting in her “realization of the oneness of all reality” and view of herself as a “unique expression of that ultimate mystery.”

Takeaway: Heart-rending story of overcoming generational abuse.

Comparable Titles: Cameron Dezen Hammon’s This Is My Body, Michelle Stevens’s Scared Selfless.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A