And I’m happy to report now, that it did not. In fact I suggest that the sequel is needed to complete the story. Especially for those of us who are suckers for closure, or even flaky “happy endings” (which I am). Not that she wraps everything up neatly or entirely unrealistically – she doesn’t for the most part.
But compared to what she has her characters go through in the first book, and even most of the second – such “closure” as she does provide is water to a parched land.
One bit of wisdom she puts in the mouth of a character was this speculation (my paraphrase since I won’t easily find it again) (in “Children of God”):
At the end of Exodus 33, God tells Moses that “you can’t see my face and live. But I will let you see my backside after I pass by.” Perhaps this is God’s way of telling us that we are ready for some truth (in season and usually ‘after the fact’), but would not be able to handle all truth in the present. I.e. we long to see God directly at work, to point to something present and say, there God is! He is doing this and we can see why and how it all fits together. But (as the characters in her story experience), we can’t really know how our present circumstances, sufferings or enjoyments will fit into any bigger plan – and we probably couldn’t handle it in the moment if we did. [this reminds me of the parable Story of the Chinese Farmer]. It does seem we are allowed at least partial glimpses in hindsight (God’s backside!?) of how some things may have worked together for good, and we can rest and hope in the faith that indeed, they did!
In her ‘Acknowledgments’ Russell credits Chatam Sofer (quoted in Sparks Beneath the Surface, by Lawrence Kushner) for the insight she gives to one of her characters and which I relayed above. I will venture that this could be a major (if not “the”) theme of Russell’s work in these two books.
They make for a good read with its main power being in the dialogue between characters. For those wanting a lot of thriller action, they might find them a bit slow moving. And of course my earlier warnings still stand – these won’t be for everybody due to language and difficult sexual themes. But, with such caveats in mind, I do recommend!