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. 😀