Charming! Delightful! Wonderful!
The Continued Times Of Isabella M Smugge by Ruth Leigh is an absolute delight. It is the third book in the Isabella Smugge series but can be read as a stand-alone. I recommend reading the previous two books first for maximum enjoyment and to follow character progression.
I absolutely adore Isabella Smugge. She is open and down to earth, speaking her mind, and yet she comes from a privileged background, so is slightly out of touch with the masses. She has a huge heart and is also as a new Christian, a work in progress. I recognized some of her thinking. “And what did she mean, God was far away?… He stayed in the same place and waited for people to approach Him.” She also thinks that God would not want to be bothered with her small concerns as He would be busy with bigger problems. Issy Smugge is very easy to relate to.
As a new Christian, Isabella Smugge has some unusual views of God. “I thought God waved His magic wand and sorted everything out.” It comes as a surprise to her that Christians have problems too. “I don’t understand why God lets this kind of thing happen, Claire ticks all the boxes in the world of religious people.” We were never promised a trouble-free life, quite the opposite. Jesus tells us that in this world you will have problems but He also promises to never leave us but to walk beside us throughout all of life.
Isabella Smugge occasionally misses church, believing that God will understand (which He will). Her attitude to going to church is hilarious at times. “I was ready to go [to church] and collect some more holy points.”
I found the scene in church where Isabella Smugge is clearly touched by the Holy Spirit, incredibly moving. As God touches hearts, the tears often fall but they are good tears as they are the healing tears of God.
Isabella Smugge is an influencer for her generation. We have watched her go, over the course of three books, from presenting a perfect picture to presenting a more realistic picture. Her honesty is always refreshing, and at times, incredibly funny. I laughed out loud at: “How else would I be expected to nurse a cantankerous and difficult parent while bringing up four children alone with only a housekeeper, part-time nursery nurse, a gardner and a manicurist.” Isabella is in the same world as us but it’s also a very different one. She still has life to balance with all its problems. Isabella Smugge is part of the sandwich generation as she juggles looking after her mother and her children.
In a previous book, the reader witnessed the breakdown of Isabella Smugge marriage. It is rather telling that she misses her au pair more than her husband!
Ruth Leigh has created a wonderful series of books around Isabella Smugge. She is refreshingly honest, incredibly kind and absolutely hilarious at times. Isabella Smugge is the friend we all wish we had. I really love her.
The style of the series is delightful. It is as if Isabella Smugge is talking to the reader. We recognize ourselves in some of her comments and attitudes, whilst also realising that her lifestyle is totally alien to us. “What kind of a woman makes an Insta-friendly breakfast then eats it before photographing it and sharing it across her platforms?”
If you have not discovered Isabella Smugge yet – why not? You are definitely missing out! Rectify that today – and buy yourself all three books now. You will be glad you did!
The Isabella Smugge series is delightful, and has such a wonderful leading lady. Thank you Ruth Leigh for introducing us to Isabella Smugge and for brightening many a day.
I received a free copy. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.
Thank you so much Julia!