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Reviewed by Kristine Hall for Readers' Favorite
Danuta Pfeiffer's Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity, and Divine Wine is the amazing story of Danuta's life - filled with deception, devastation, and determination - that takes readers on a courageous journey. Told in three parts, Danuta's story begins at her beginning, as a God-fearing child, living a spartan life under a father she revered, despite his abusive hands. Her father's stories of obstacles he'd overcome in the war, in the most brutal of circumstances, carried Danuta through her own travails time and again, even as her father continued to reject her. For readers who remember Danuta (then Soderman) and her mysterious departure from being the co-host of The 700 Club with Pat Robertson, details are revealed of not only her departure, but of how CBN and Robertson operated behind-the-scenes. This provided fascinating insight into the sometimes sordid world of televangelism, and it ultimately led to Danuta's "losing God" for a period of time. As Danuta navigates her life - out of work, married to an addict, and questioning the very existence of God - she always draws strength from her father's challenges and perseveres. When she finally allows friendships into her life and allows herself to focus on her own needs, she finds true love with a winemaker, Robin Pfeiffer. Robin takes Danuta to Poland, where Danuta connects with her father's family, and discovers the truth and lies of her father's past. Chiseled is a masterfully written story of a woman spending a lifetime searching to find peace, love, and acceptance within herself.
What a beautifully written personal story Danuta Pfeiffer has shared. At times, readers will have to remind themselves that Chiseled is a memoir and not fiction. It is unbelievable that any one person endured all of the heartache and challenges that Danuta faced, and even more amazing that she survived it and now lives a healthy, happy life. Many of her sentences are stunning, and the imagery truly takes the story to another level. For example, in talking about her father's decline into depression, Danuta wrote, "His change took place the way a shoelace comes undone, gradually unravelling what was once secure." Or, when she speaks of her time with The 700 Club, she summarizes it by saying, "I had become a spiritual drug dealer imbued with the halo of power and celebrity, associated with the brokers of money and politics." Her characterization was excellent so that readers not only witnessed actions, but understood and felt Danuta's emotions towards the characters who had the most impact on her life. Particularly powerful was the story of Danuta's mother, Patricia, who was truly the hero of Danuta's life. In Patricia's strength and commitment to her family, Danuta found a role model in a time when women were restricted by societal limitations. Throughout Danuta's life, her faith and relationship with God went through many iterations, and it was interesting to see her thought process at all stages and what ultimately led her back to a life of faith.
I highly recommend Chiseled, as Danuta Pfeiffer eloquently shows that truth can be more dramatic and fascinating than fiction. Readers should be prepared to be angry - and possibly shed a few tears - but in the end, feel inspired.