Following His Voice
A Time To Heal by Erin Stevenson is the most delightful contemporary Christian novel. It is the third book in the Canadian Meadows series but can be read as a stand-alone. I enjoyed catching up with the Kingston clan.
This book focuses on Rand who has been estranged from his family for twenty years. We see parallels between God and the father in the novel as both grieve the loss of their children when they are away from home.
There is the theme of bridges. We see the need for re-building, for trust to be earned and for lives to be forgiven.
Just as a car cannot run on empty, so a Christian needs daily topping up with the Word of God and with prayer. “I begin every morning with a daily devotional and prayer. Fill up my tank.” When we are plugged into the Father, we know that whatever we face in life, we do not face it alone.
We witness dreams changing as we let go of our plans and press into God’s plans.
Jesus tells us to do our good deeds in secret and not to boast about it. This is played out in the life of a character who gives anonymously where he spots a need.
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.
Rising From The Ashes
The Orphan Thief by Glynis Peters is a heart-wrenching historical tale that totally consumed me.
The novel is set in Coventry during the night of 14th November 1940 and onwards. The reader, along with the characters, watches helplessly on as the medieval city of Coventry is destroyed by German bombers. The smoldering wreck of the cathedral says it all.
Rising from the ashes are the remaining residents of Coventry. Though shocked, the bulldog spirit is alive. Survivors band together making new family units as they learn to live again.
The dead are not forgotten but remembered in hearts all over the city.
There is a wonderful community of love and care for the lost and the vulnerable. Most have good hearts but there are a few who take advantage and prey on the young.
The Woman In The Woods by Lisa Hall is a spine-chilling contemporary psychological suspense that completely consumed me.
The novel is set in the real-life location of the village of Pluckley in Kent, supposedly the most haunted village in England – but the story is entirely a work of fiction.
The plotline is well thought out and executed, drawing me in from the start and producing more than a few goose bumps!
All the characters are well drawn. We see the action in the first person from the point of view of the leading lady. As a result, our emotional response and reactions line up with hers. It is all very cleverly done to manipulate our responses.
There is the question of what is real and what is imagined. Suspicion lies in the most unlikely of places. I must confess I, wrongly, pointed the finger at some!