The Prayer Chest

Written by August Gold and Joel Fotinos
Review by Mirella Patzer

Joseph Hutchinson and his wife, Miriam, are poor farmers scraping out a living on Long Island during the late 1800s. Unlike Miriam, Joseph has never been very religious, but in the attic of his small home, Joseph finds solace and a sanctuary and where he goes to pray.

Miriam labors to deliver their first child, but it is not an easy delivery and Joseph becomes fearful. Desperate to do something, he flees to the attic. Despite Joseph’s prayers, Miriam dies of pneumonia, and Joseph is left alone to raise their small daughter. In his grief, he repudiates prayer and drifts away from spirituality.

One day, he returns to the attic and after knocking out a small panel of wood, he discovers a small dusty chest. When he opens it, he finds an ancient notebook and some yellowed papers. As he starts reading, he learns that the chest and contents have been handed down through generations to pass on its secrets.

This small novel packs a powerful punch. Its simple prose offers gentle inspiration on how to enrich one’s family and life through simple prayer. The characters are both believable and likeable while the story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.