I have two books to share for this month’s I Read It! challenge over at 5 Minutes for Books. I actually meant to write up a full-length review of the first one, but I never got around to it. However, I actually think I can sum my feelings for this particular story up in a few words, so it fits well here anyway. As for the second book–well, there’s really not much to say about it that hasn’t already been said.
My first read for the I Read It! challenge was Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett. I believe I first read about this book at Reading to Know, and then my real-life friend Wanda read about it and reviewed it, too. Wanda was kind enough to loan her copy to me, and I finally got around to reading it. I enjoyed Beaded Hope and found the story captivating, especially since it’s based on a real ministry. However, I wouldn’t say that it is significantly different than any other contemporary Christian fiction in its style or message. In other words, both are somewhat forgettable, if the ministry and trip that inspired the story are not. Again, that’s not to say I didn’t like it; indeed, I did. I even shed a few tears over it, which is almost always proof that I’m engaged in a story. If you’re looking for a story about a group of disparate women who are united by a common cause, and ultimately, by the cause of Christ, you’ll enjoy this book. If you’re looking for inspiring, literary prose, you’ll find this book lacking.
The second book I read for the I Read It! challenge, though, is a lovely piece of fiction that I enjoyed not only for the story but also for the way it is written. Yes, I finally, finally succombed to the pull of Mitford! I cannot even begin to say where my inspiration for reading this book began, but certainly Monica’s ongoing mention of the series on her blog had something to do with my decision to finally plunge in. I have actually had this book for a while and even tried to read it once, but for some reason, I just didn’t find it terribly appealing at the time. However, at this point in my life, I needed something encouraging and uplifting to read (have I mentioned before that I find pregnancy draining in every way?), and At Home in Mitford just hit the spot. This book really needs no introduction (the series has its own forum, for Pete’s sake!), so I thought that instead of rehashing the story, I would share why I like it and some quotes I found inspiring. How’s that?
First, why I like this book so much:
- This book is refreshingly optimistic, but not in a saccharine way. The characters in the story have real problems (homelessness, dysfunctional families, serious illness, mental illness, to name a few), but they mostly choose to live victoriously through Christ.
- Father Tim seems like a real person, not a stained-glass saint. He has his own weaknesses and foibles, but he consistently reminds himself that his strength comes from God. I like this a lot because I found myself identifying with Father Tim throughout the story.
- The other characters are also mostly depicted realistically. Some of them are likeable and some of them are not, but mostly they are a mixture.
- The writing! Oh, the writing. I’ll let it speak for itself:
As the streets and lanes gave way to countryside and sloped toward the deeper valley, the rolling farmland began. Here, pastures were stocked with Herefords and Guernseys; lakes were filled with trout and brim; barnyards succored chattering guineas. And everywhere, in town or out, was the rich, black loam that made the earthworm’s toil one of unending satisfaction. (18)
I just love that last sentence!
Later, drifting toward a restless sleep, he murmured a deep truth: “It’s different having a boy in the house.”
Given the imminent arrival of our own first son, this one struck me as funny (as well as gave me pause)!
How could he have considered taking Monday off? Monday was the diving board poised over the rest of the week. One walked out on the board, reviewed the situation, planned one’s strategy, bounced a few times to get the feel of things, and then made a clean dive. Without Monday, one simply bombed into the water, belly first, and hoped for the best. (391)
I feel the same way about Mondays, too.
Perhaps, in a small parish, he was spared the passion, but he didn’t feel spared the challenge. He was feeling more surely than ever that he was exactly where God meant for him to be. All he really needed, he knew, was the endurance to be there with stamina and zeal. (391)
Amen, Father Tim.
I give this one a Highly, Highly Recommended!