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.
An Ethereal Beauty
Brisbane by Eugene Vodolazkin (translated by Marian Schwartz) is an epic contemporary novel that drew me in from the start.
It is a novel that focuses on a life in both relatively present day and the 1970’s moving forwards.
Brisbane is also a celebration of the arts – Gleb is a musician but he also loves words, exploring their impact in the novel. He is conflicted between the Russian and the Ukrainian in him.
The main character has a mixed relationship with his father, also a musician, who seems to enjoy putting his son down. Gleb strives to make his father proud.
In contrast there is a loving relationship with his grandfather who sustains and encourages Gleb. He also introduces him to God. Religion was not encouraged in Soviet Russia as a communist country, when Gleb was growing up. Gleb dreads having the dilemma as to whether to acknowledge his faith or to deny it. Gleb finds comfort in knowing God.
A Fascinating Vocation
They’ll Never Read That by Tony Collins is a fascinating account of the author’s life in publishing.
The whole book is written in a very personable style enabling the reader to become acquainted with Tony Collins. It feels more like we are hearing from a dear friend rather than reading a book.
The world of publishing is full of ups and down, hits and misses. One has to be able to spot the next best seller. Tony Collins writes about the books that got away – and those that didn’t! – The Heavenly Man, Faith Like Potatoes, Alpha, Freedom In Christ to name but a few best sellers.
It is fascinating to note that some books that were best sellers in America failed to provide similar sales here in the UK. I was most surprised to learn that Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series failed to be a best seller in Britain – I have read all the books and watched all the movies and I love it.
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.