Over at Kindred Grace (the contributor blog I manage), we’ve been talking about some of our favorite classics for the annual March of Books. Today I’m sharing my love of the Scottish author George MacDonald, while I’ve invited my mother to guest post here with her own review of a favorite MacDonald title. Enjoy! And don’t miss the double MacDonald giveaway this week over at Kindred Grace.
It has been too long since I dusted off my shelf of MacDonald books, and far longer still that I took one down to read it. One title stands out as having made a big impact on me several decades ago.
The Curate’s Awakening did as the title suggests—awakened in me a desire to not just know facts, but to know and believe the Truth. The story launches with a skeptic posing a question to the curate: “Tell me honestly, do you really believe one word of all that?” A staggering blow to someone whose occupation presupposes faith in God—rather like assuming a child brought up in a Christian home will automatically become a child of God.
George MacDonald’s writing has had a soul-searching effect on me, stirring up doubt at times, yet leading to a healthy questioning of long-held traditions, with the purpose of being sure of what I believe. The theme of The Curate’s Awakening is the realization that “God in his compassion seeks our deliverance, healing, and rebirth.” The main character, Thomas Wingfold, shows how “the response of the open heart when confronted with truth—however unpleasant . . . is a response of humility, which leads to growth and eventual oneness with Christ.”
A secondary character, Helen, mirrors the dull spiritual state of the curate, having “supposed she could think because the thoughts of other people had passed through her quite regularly, leaving many a phantom conclusion behind. But this had been their thinking, not hers.” Like children raised in a Christian home, Christianity has been “spoon-fed” to them for so many years, how can they distinguish their own faith from that of their teachers or parents?
The ability to challenge his readers to the very core of their belief system is what sets MacDonald apart from other writers of fiction. Far from “fluff,” his stories are deep and thought provoking, begging for a response. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to read more than two or three pages before instinctively reaching for a pencil or highlighter to mark jewels you want to ruminate on later. And I promise you will be inexplicably drawn toward the Heavenly Father, desiring to know Him more fully, which was the author’s intent all along.
- The Curate’s Awakening (originally published as Thomas Wingfold, Curate in 1876)
- The Lady’s Confession (originally published as Paul Faber, Surgeon in 1879)
- The Baron’s Apprenticeship (originally published as There and Back in 1891)
Sara Louise inherited her appreciation for good authors from her mom, who volunteered in the library of the Christian school where Sara attended as a girl—and who still collects books in her eighties. This love of the written word now extends to the third and fourth generation—all of whom have bookshelves lining their walls.