Aunt Jane’s Marriage Advice to the Young and Romantic

The Novels of Jane Austen

Portrait of Jane Austen, from the memoir by J....
Portrait of Jane Austen, based on a sketch by Cassandra Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters. – Pride and Prejudice

Anybody who knows me knows how much I love Jane Austen, considered by many to be the greatest female writer of the English language. It was just a matter of time before I would feature her on my blog, and since 2013 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice it seems appropriate to do so this year. Pride and Prejudice was my first Austen novel; I read it for the first time about 15 years ago and since then have tried to read one Austen novel every year. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Pride and Prejudice is a book that I think every Christian should read, but it is one of my all-time favorite books and I do highly recommend it. Rather than review one of Austen’s books in particular, I decided instead to write about the main subject that runs through all of her books – marriage. Continue reading “Aunt Jane’s Marriage Advice to the Young and Romantic”

The Little Mathematician Who Made a Big Difference: Nathaniel Bowditch

CarryOnMrBCarry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

“Every ship is in danger, every time it sails. But the more men know about navigation, the safer our ships will be, won’t they? Nat isn’t working to save just one ship. He’s working to make every ship safer every time it goes to sea. Every ship in America!”

Jean Lee Latham won the Newbery Medal in 1956 for her fictionalized biography, Carry on Mr. Bowditch. The story is about Nathaniel Bowditch, a widely unfamiliar yet important Early American figure for his contributions in the fields of mathematics and navigation. Bowditch lived from 1773-1838 in Salem, Massachusetts, and is known as the “Father of American Mathematics.” Continue reading “The Little Mathematician Who Made a Big Difference: Nathaniel Bowditch”

The Legacy of Baroness Orczy

They seek him here.
They seek him there.
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?
Is he in hell?
That d–d elusive Pimpernel!

I got behind on my articles again. so I decided to reblog this one that I came across which I found very interesting. The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my all-time favorite books, but I had never heard of the movie Pimpernel Smith before and want to get a hold of it. Sir Percy Blakeney chooses to live a dual life – a wealthy, pompous fop in England’s high society, but secretly a hero who rescues lives in danger under the French Reign of Terror. He willingly humiliates himself by taking on a public role for which he is mocked in order to throw off any suspicion of what he is really involved in. There are at least three film adaptations of The Scarlet Pimpernel – the older ones are somewhat cheesy, but fun anyway; the 1999 version doesn’t portray Sir Percy as very likeable nor his relationship with his wife as romantic.

Baroness Orczy actually wrote an entire series of stories about the SP following his exploits. If you like stories that combine adventure, intrigue, British wit, and romance, especially stories about the French Revolution, you should enjoy The Scarlet Pimpernel. As I write about it I realize I am overdue for a rereading of this book! A personal favorite that I highly recommend, although I won’t go so far as to include it on my list of books I think every Christian should read.

Becoming Emily...

This past week, I was able to share a movie with my dear friend, Maribeth.  Together, we sat upstairs and laughed and giggled while watching the old movie, Pimpernel Smith.  This film meant a lot to us for several reasons — it was a conjunction of an inspiring historical figure, a  favorite novel, and an unintentional legacy left by a baroness.  Together, these three seemingly unconnected bits made an extraordinary impact on the world.

Six years ago, Maribeth introduced me to an often-overlooked historical figure, Raoul Wallenberg.  Through his work with the War Refugees Board at the Swiss embassy in Budapest, Hungary,  Wallenberg was able to save the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the last year of WWII.

A couple years later, I returned the favor and introduced Maribeth to a fabulous book which quickly became one of our favorites: The Scarlet Pimpernel.  I’m not going to spoil…

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Archibald Zwick: A Modern Christian “Everyteen”

ArchieZwick Archibald Zwick and the Eight Towers by Robert Leslie Palmer

  Humility is the path to freedom.
Mourning leads to change.
Surrender is gain.
Morality is possible only when it is impossible.

After reading my review of the Christian classic, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the author of Archibald Zwick asked me if I would read his book and write a review of it, so I agreed and he sent me a copy. Like the classic Pilgrim’s Progress, Palmer’s story is a Christian allegory that uses the characters and events to symbolically convey spiritual truths to the reader. As others have pointed out, the story is similar to the C. S. LewisChronicles of Narnia series, so I think this book would appeal especially to teenagers (and adults) who enjoy that kind of fantasy tale. The story follows sixteen-year-old Archie, who finds himself in a fantastical floating island kingdom reminiscent of medieval England, except the people are smaller than the average human and have green-tinted skin, and the knights ride dolphins instead of horses. Continue reading “Archibald Zwick: A Modern Christian “Everyteen””

The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien (a trilogy of posts)

The biggest challenge I have faced when writing reviews on books I’ve enjoyed and have included on my list of books I think every Christian should read is writing about books I read years ago. I could re-read them (and some I intend to), but there are so many books on my yet-to-be-read list that I don’t often re-read books. As I have been discovering many other good sites that focus on books, I’ve found some great articles and reviews that have already been published, so I thought “Why re-invent the wheel?” So, this is a “Reblog” of a well-written review (actually series of reviews) of The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Blogging for a Good Book

It appears at or near the top of every popularly chosen list of the best books of all time. It cast a lasting spell on the fantasy genre, where it set the tropes that would be explored for nearly forty years before darker, more ironic low fantasy, Harry Potter,  and contemporary urban fantasy could even begin to put a dent in its armor.  If you asked most readers to name a fantasy book, it would be the first words from their lips. Still, some readers and critics insist on taking cheap shots at The Lord of the Rings (hereafter “LOTR”).

Some say that it oversimplifies the struggle between good and evil. Others accuse it of racism because many of the forces of evil are dark-skinned. Some decry the shortage of female characters. Some simply find it too hokey. Some blithely accuse it of being loaded with clichés, but you can’t…

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Flannery O’Connor: Seeing the Bad in the Good (Part One)

GoodManHardtoFindA Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Through the ages, philosophers have debated the issue of man’s morality. The question can be asked like this: “Is man basically good, having a potential for evil? Or, is man essentially bad, with the potential for doing good?” How do we distinguish between a “good” person and a “bad” person? If you were to ask the average person on the street, most people would likely say they believe man is basically good. But I believe that the southern Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor  (1925-1964) would disagree with this assessment. O’Connor’s stories have been classified as Southern Gothic. She is quoted as remarking that “anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.” She uses irony and dark humor in some of her short stories to expose the depravity that she believes exists in the heart of every person. Continue reading “Flannery O’Connor: Seeing the Bad in the Good (Part One)”