A Summary of September's Reading

The Curate's Awakening by George MacDonald - I discovered George MacDonald years ago when I read one of his children's books. Later I learned that C.S. Lewis considered MacDonald one of his major influences and that pushed me to search out more of his work. I love the stories he tells and the language he uses to tell them, but this one stands out for it's theology. Some of G.M.'s books can be preachy, but this one is full of love - what love is, how to live it, and how it is the very basis of Christianity. This book took me back to the basics of my faith, reminding me that no matter what else I do or say, it is only the love I share that reflects the life of Christ in me and draws people to Him.

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman - I loved this amazing story. Mrs. Mike is a young girl from Boston who marries a member of the R.C.M.P. and moves to the far north to live a very different kind of life than she is used to. It may not be great writing, but the story is based on an actual person who lived that life and it is worth reading. In fact I think it's one of those books that should be read, maybe in high school as a hearty dose of reality before heading out into the world. If ever a book could help a person step back and get a better perspective on life, this would be it. Highly recommended.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell - I'm finding it hard to put this one into words. The basic plot has a family living in a charming little house in the Cotswolds, seemingly happy and well-adjusted, but with something feeling just a bit off. It moves on to the mother's hoarding obsession, the break-up of the marriage when Mom has an affair with the neighbour lady, and the four kids growing up with lots of emotional baggage to complicate their own lives. Actually one of them doesn't grow up but you'll want to read the details about that yourself. It all sounds slightly preposterous, but the thing is, this family felt real to me. There is plenty of dysfunction in my own family and though the circumstances are completely different, I recognized the fear and denial, the silent ignoring of things that should be faced and talked about, and the emotional fallout from years of not dealing with anything.

I found the book well-written and the characters well-constructed. It hit me hard, and maybe that's what I liked about it, but I thought it was very good. 

Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox - It wasn't quite what I was expecting but I did enjoy it. I was interested in seeing how he handles life with Parkinson's Disease while still keeping a positive outlook. I don't have Parkinson's but I do have Fibromyalgia, a condition that has changed my life in a thousand ways, and I was interested in hearing how he copes with it all.  He talks about the difficult decision to leave his tv series, his subsequent involvement in politics, his Fox Foundation's efforts to raise money for PD research, his family and his faith. His outlook on life is encouraging; he sums it up in the very bold statement that he believes Parkinson's has given him and his family far more than it has taken away.

Village Affairs by Miss Read - Picking up one of Miss Read's books feels like going home. After reading the previous books in the Fairacre series, I feel I know the people and their quirks, the village itself and the surrounding countryside. In this one the town is alarmed to hear rumours of the school closing, in particular Miss Read herself who is the schoolmistress and must now consider a future elsewhere.


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