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.
Talking To Calippa Cumberland by Chick Yuill is the most heart warming and delightful Christian novel that will soothe your soul.
The novel opens on Christmas Eve in 1976. The following chapters are all set on various Christmas Eves as we dip in and out of a life. This is not just a novel for Christmas. This is a novel for life.
I loved the inclusion each year of the Christmas number one. Music evokes memories within the reader.
We hear of characters who are lost. “I’ve always felt a little bit lost” declares lead character Lori Bloom aged 24 years old. I think we can all relate to feeling lost until we are found by Jesus. “We both know that we are lost.” In the Bible we hear the stories of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. The good news is – if we are lost, Jesus is looking for us. It is no coincidence that the lead character’s surname is Bloom. Jesus wants us to bloom under His care.
Over the years we lose those we love – either through life moving on or through death, the ultimate journey. To be human is to face loss.
Everyone needs to have a safe place. For Lori aged nine and three quarters, it is home. “Number 17 Morley Road is a place of safety and shelter, within those walls I’m sure that no bad thing can reach me or harm me.” As Christians, our safe place is not found in bricks and mortar but resting in the arms and heart of Jesus.
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.
Beneath The surface
The Diary Of Isabella M Smugge by Ruth Leigh is a delightful contemporary look at life through the eyes of Instagram blogger Isabella Smugge.
This is a charming book showing a carefully crafted life on the surface. But underneath things are not always so rosy. It is a warning to remember that perfect lives seen on social media are merely snapshots and we should not take them too seriously. This book is just as telling in what Isabella Smugge doesn’t say as in what she does.
The ‘perfect’ life is staged. It is about looking good from all angles. The perfect life may actually be the perfect lie. This instant generation too often make snap judgements based on what they see online. It is not always real life. The theme of appearances versus reality looms large.
As the book progresses the real Isabella Smugge emerges. We witness her edges soften and as her life expands we see a heart of gold.