The Curate’s Awakening by George MacDonald

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Curate’s Awakening by George MacDonald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Thomas Wingfold, the curate of Glaston, entered the ministry as a profession, having seen no reason not to do so. But unlikely incidents show him he doesn’t know what his true beliefs are in The Curate’s Awakening, a novel by author George MacDonald.

Overall, I enjoyed this gothic tale. It isn’t the typical “he lost his faith because something bad happened to him” scenario I see in a lot of Christian novels. Not to say that that kind of scenario can’t be complex, but not every person’s faith in God is based on an expectation that they’ll be exempt from serious storms or losses in life.

While some of the characters’ deliberations don’t move the plot forward much, I can appreciate a story that isn’t afraid to be philosophical and to engage critical thinking. To address doubts and ask questions without jumping to pat answers that’ll magically fix the characters’ problems in an instant. As Thomas himself says, “Where there are no doubts, no questions, no perplexities, there can be no growth…”

Now, I make allowances for older fiction, when it comes to some of the passé melodrama and such. However, no matter a book’s age or style, I’m never a big fan of perfunctory romance, when somebody falls in love because…what?

Sir, that fair maiden you have your eye on is pathetic, fainting one minute, bursting into tears the next. She’s also snippy, selfish, prideful, and now—surprise!—you adore her. Compassion for her wretched soul? That’s fine. But do you have to be in love with her? Does the novel need romance that badly?

Anyhow. The story begins to drag during its last third or quarter, not going anyplace fresh for a while as it delays the inevitable, but there’s an intriguing twist toward the end. And Thomas’s very human, honest journey has me looking forward to reading the novel that follows this one.

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I’ve got two more Curate of Glaston novels to read.

  

 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Meg Murry’s father has been missing for quite a while now, having mysteriously disappeared while doing top secret work for the government. When three unearthly creatures pull Meg, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin into an otherworldly mission to find Mr Murry, adventure and danger ensue in A Wrinkle in Time, a novel by author Madeleine L’Engle.

This is one of those classics I’ve known about forever and decided to finally give a go. And, no, it wasn’t because of the major motion picture coming out. I didn’t hear about the movie until after I picked up a copy of this book, written by the author of two of my all-time favorite novels: The Small Rain and A Severed Wasp.

Also, no, I don’t enjoy famous books just because they’re famous, and admittedly, my interest in this one had some ups and downs as I went along. A nice number of different nuggets in the book immediately stuck me, including these:

“I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.

“I’m all confused again.”
“Oh, so ‘m I. But now at least I know we’re going somewhere.”

“There will no longer be so many pleasant things to look at if responsible people do not do something about the unpleasant ones.”

(Pardon my using regular English spelling for that last quote from Mrs Which, for anyone who recognizes it.)

Then there were other times during the journey when my interest waned, and I began to worry a bit toward the end, wondering how the story might reach a satisfying conclusion in the very little time it had left. Yet, even though I’m not usually one to finish novels in one sitting, something was pulling at me all along to just keep on reading, keep on reading right through…

…right through to this novel’s glorious finish.

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A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in the Time Quintet.

   

 

Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Nothing means more to Pat than being at home with the people she loves. And nothing frightens Pat more than change. But growing up will mean that not everything can stay the same in Pat of Silver Bush, a novel by author L.M. Montgomery.

Some of the best reading of my life has come from this author, including classics like Anne of Green Gables and more of the Anne novels, but even more so than those, for me: Emily of New Moon and the following two novels about Emily Byrd Starr, three of my all-time favorite books.

But after I moved on to some of this author’s more “mature” work over the past few years and ran into stories with unequivocally racist undertones and overtones, I wasn’t sure if I’d seek out any more of her writing. In this case, I read this novel chiefly because I’m interested in reading the one after it, and I already own copies of both. I believe that after these two, I’ll simply keep the good L.M.M. books I’ve read, continue to appreciate them for what they are, and leave the rest of the would-be-new-to-me stories where they are, wherever they may be.

As for this novel, I think I might have enjoyed it more if I weren’t already so familiar with Emily, Anne, and the ways of their books. Pat’s story felt too similar but somehow not as interesting, and this fairly lengthy novel might’ve been half as long without all of Judy’s ramblings. (Yes, I enjoyed Sarah’s [were they Sarah’s?] ramblings in Rilla of Ingleside, but I guess it wasn’t something I needed to see done over again with a “too similar” character.)

Still, as I expected it would, this novel vividly paints the beauty of Prince Edward Island and the sparkle, pain, poignancy, and wonder of childhood and growing up. All things considered, I’m glad I read it.

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Yep. I read Pat’s first novel mainly so that I won’t be at all lost when I read her next, Mistress Pat.

 

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008) from Automatic Pictures
Rated PG. Drama, Period Film, Family Film, Christmas

1/2

Description (from the film case): Based on a short story by the acclaimed author of Little Women comes a holiday story of family and forgiveness. Recently widowed Mary Bassett (Helene Joy) and her three children have hit difficult times on their farm. Things are so bad this year that they can’t even afford a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. Suddenly, Mary’s wealthy and estranged mother Isabella (Jacqueline Bisset) comes to visit. Although she finds a kindred spirit in Mary’s eldest daughter, Tilly (Tatiana Maslany), Mary resents her mother’s attempts to help them out of their financial difficulties…

My thoughts: Okay, so even though the description doesn’t make it clear, the story here is led by young Tilly, and I rather like this heroine. She’s got some fire but doesn’t wildly burn around, she longs for more but isn’t a total brat about it, and she has some growing up to do but isn’t immature. Plus, she’s a writer, which I always admire.

And, yes, I’m taking the liberty of tagging this as a Christmas film, since Thanksgiving is the lead-up to the holiday of all holidays. The movie originally aired on the Hallmark Channel, and it certainly has the quintessentially “Hallmark” kind of wholesomeness, warmth, and delightfulness wrapped up in an hour and a half.

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