Book Review

I’ve just finished reading these two books, and they were both so good that I wanted to write a brief review.

 

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster is set around 100 years ago in Florence and the Home Counties. It is a charming, well-written novel telling the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a well-to-do young lady with a talent for the piano. The novel tells the story of how she falls in love and marries the man of her dreams, but it does it in such a delightful, at times laugh-out-loud funny way, that one can only be swept along in the warmth of the author’s prose, plot and characterisation. Like a honeysuckle-scented breeze on a summer’s day is this wonderful novel. I’m not generally into romance, but this book is worthy of the title of Literature. If you haven’t read it, you are missing out.

 

The second book is the non-fiction A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which has received some very mixed reviews across the pond, by all accounts. It is currently only available through Amazon in the UK, as far as I can tell, and via Audible. In 2010, Rachel Held Evans set out to live for a year in as ‘biblical’ a manner as possible, paying particular attention to commands and traditions relating specifically to women. She approached the project with intelligence, humour, excellent scholarship and an earnestness that was beyond reproach.

 

In doing so, Rachel demonstrated that there is, in reality, zero consensus as to what constitutes ‘biblical’ womanhood, that it can mean all sorts of things to all sorts of people, each as earnest in their way as the next. She also shows the age-old wisdom: one can discover truth where one least expects it.

 

The book is not written by some crack-pot religious nut exercising the extremes of her brand of fundamentalism, which is how your common English person might view such a title, nor is it mocking the bible and treating it with irreverence and disrespect. Quite the contrary;  Rachel simply asks the questions one has always wanted to ask – and in doing so arrives at some surprising, yet interesting places. It made me laugh and it made me cry. It also challenged me. If you read no other Christian book for the rest of 2013, read this! I can’t recommend it highly enough.  😀

2 thoughts on “Book Review

  1. I’m not a big fan of Rachel Held Evans. I felt her book Evolving in Monkey Town tended to at times attack Fundamentalist because of her Fundamentalist upbringing. I also felt at time she leaned towards to Universalism Christianity.

    One of the reasons why her book might not be selling in the US has to do with the biggest Christian book store chain refusing to sell it. At first the claim was it had to do with a certain word she used in her book, but from what I had read latter that was the public excuse not the real reason why they refused to sell this book. They are not publicly saying why, but if I had to guess it might have to do with the feelings I got from her first book. Her perceived attacks on fundamentalism and at times she borders on Universalism.

    When I heard that she was writing, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I could not help wonder at the time if she was doing this as a roundabout way to attack the Bible.

    • Rachel has a strong personality and that definitely came across in ‘Evolving in Monkey Town’. I think I picked up on what you mean by bordering on universalism (though on her blog if you asked her she’d probably answer you honestly as to what she really does think – and why), but I think she was right to ask the kinds of questions that she did ask, if they have not been asked before. Not being an American fundamentalist Christian (and I’d never dream of calling myself a fundamentalist in the UK, that’s like saying I’m a member of the Taleban – you just wouldn’t identify yourself as fundamentalist here unless you wanted trouble!) I don’t know where the lines are between her own personality and the culture – I just got the impression that the culture she described was very different to my own.

      However, A Year of Biblical Womanhood showed Rachel not just being that strong-willed personality, but also showed her spiritual growth and her maturing as a person, which was one of the loveliest parts of this book. I genuinely loved it. Her biblical scholarship is impeccable and I can genuinely say it is in no means an attack on the bible, quite the contrary.

      Thanks for your comments, Thomas, I always value what you have to say 🙂

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