Really Fun And Relatable
The Trials Of Isabella M Smugge by Ruth Leigh is the most delightful contemporary Christian novel that will leave you smiling. It is the second book in the Isabella Smugge series but can be read as a stand-alone. For maximum enjoyment and to track character development, I recommend reading book one first.
I absolutely adore the character of Isabella Smugge. She is easy to relate to and to empathise with. I feel there is a little of Isabella Smugge in all of us.
Isabella Smugge has developed tremendously since her introduction to village life a year earlier (book one). It is a pure delight to see her go from slightly stand-offish to Christian seeker as her huge heart for others just keeps on growing.
She has just started going to church and is surprised what she finds, being used to a more Anglised church. She “began mouthing the words to show willing. I wondered why people kept putting their hands up. Was this something to do with volunteering?” Her confusion is understandable. Her need to pray ‘correctly’ is easy to relate to. “I sent up a quiet prayer of my own… I’m sure God was relieved to hear someone addressing Him in the correct fashion.”
Izzy Smugge attitude to prayer is amusing. “I’d made a mental note to thank God for His very efficient answer… I don’t know how the stats normally stack up, but a 100 per cent success rate is most pleasing.” There is a serious note too, we need to be sure to not just petition God but remember to thank Him for answered prayer.
As a Christian seeker Izzy Smugge has some worldly responses to answered prayer. “Considering that God answered both of my prayers… I should really be paying him back by going to church.” God does not expect a tit for tat response. He wants us to go to church because we need community. We need those who can encourage us in our faith, and those to whom we can be an encouragement.
Growing up Izzy Smugge and her sister had a rather detached mother who sent them to boarding school. Only as she gets older does their mother open up to life-changing events in the past where the stiff upper lip had been deployed. Their mother still has a rather strange reaction to the news that Izzy Smugge is pregnant. “Four children! I don’t know what they’re going to say at the club. Two is perfectly adequate.” There is a preoccupation with appearances.
As Izzy Smugge and her family settled into village life, a new, more honest Izzy Smugge has emerged. Life is not all about appearances. Life is about being truthful and asking for help if struggling. Let others help and let God transform you from the inside out.
There is the theme of forgiveness. “Do I want to think about forgiving her? No. I don’t. #thanksbutnothanks.” Her honesty is refreshing, as is her journey on the path to forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice and a process. It cannot be rushed.
I loved Izzy Smugge reaction to meeting a husband and wife team who had served overseas. “They seem completely normal, even though they are top-notch Christians.”
Isabella Smugge lives her life in the spotlight as an Instagram blogger. For years her life has been staged but since becoming a Christian seeker and making some true friends, her life has become more transparent.
I loved the verbal volleys in the playground, especially with Lianne who insists on calling her Smug.
I absolutely adore Izzy Smugge and cannot get enough of her. I understand her thinking and I see some of myself in her thoughts and reactions. Ruth Leigh has perfectly captured some very human thoughts and responses to life. It is an absolute joy to watch Isabella Smugge grow into her new life. I want more, more, more books please Ruth Leigh.
I received a free copy from the publishers. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.
About The Book
Life in the country isn’t going as Issy Smugge planned it. However, the woman Gorgeous Home magazine once called ‘Britain’s Most Relatable Mum Designer’ is nothing if not resilient!
With an unexpected baby on the way, a good-for-nothing husband and a mother who never seemed to care but now needs caring for, her hands are full. Her venal agent and creative socials guru keep work fizzing, but how will she cope with the mysterious village snitch and poisonous gossip columnist Lavinia Harcourt?
Discovering others’ problems can be far worse than her own, she confronts bizarre church sub-culture and braces herself to use the NHS, rethinking all she thought she wanted. Could true happiness be just a few hashtags away?
Ruth Leigh is a freelance writer, novelist and book reviewer. Married with three children, she is a recovering over-achiever.