Tag: wholesome (Page 1 of 3)

Is Fiction Marketed to Latter-day Saints “Christian Fiction”?

To answer that question, it’s important to understand what Christian fiction is. Depending on who you ask, you may get one of these answers:

  • Fiction with a lot of talk about God
  • Fiction with very little, if any, sexual content, graphic violence, and foul language
  • Fiction that promotes traditional values and practices such as chastity, integrity, and repentance
  • Fiction written by practicing Christians for practicing Christians about practicing Christians
  • Fiction that explores religious themes in a way that testifies of Jesus Christ and glorifies Him
  • Fiction that preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Stories that would fall apart if the religious element were removed
  • Fiction that contains universal Christian themes and content that will appeal to Christians from a wide variety of denominations
  • A broad genre that contains works from all Christian denominations
  • A narrow genre that only contains books published by specific companies and imprints marketing to a conservative Protestant audience or by independent authors that meet the standards of these companies and imprints

Every single one of these descriptions is accurate. Not every work of Christian fiction, however, can be defined by every single description on this list.

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The Enchanted April

The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim (English Classic)

The Enchanted April“Drawn by a promise of ‘wisteria and sunshine,’ four English ladies exchange their damp and dreary surroundings for a month on the Italian Riviera. They’re different from each other in age and attitude, but all are bewitched by their rented medieval castle and the natural beauty of the Portofino peninsula. Their holiday not only refreshes their spirits but also reintroduces them to their true natures and reopens their hearts to love and friendship.”


I’ve been busy at work on Book 3 of the Dominion Over the Earth series, Day of Liberation, since the beginning of February and have had little desire to put my mind in the stories or even observations of other authors. I’ve had even less desire to put any of my own observations on anything I’ve read into a blog post, and I had pretty much determined that I am incapable of serious blogging and obsessive novel-writing at the same time. The Enchanted April, however, pulled me out of my fantasy world and into the real one long enough to write a blog post, which is ironic, since the book itself has the feel of a fairy tale.

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Cranford and Democracy in America, Volume 2

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (English classic)

“The formidable Miss Deborah Jenkyns and the kindly Miss Matty live in a village where women rule and men usually tend to get in the way. Their days revolve around card games, tea, thriftiness, friendship and an endless appetite for scandal (from the alarming sight of a cow in flannel pyjamas to the shocking news of the titled lady who marries a surgeon). But, like it or not, change is coming into their world—whether it is the new ideas of Captain Brown, a bank collapse, rumours of burglars or the unexpected return of someone from the past.”

My Lady Ludlow, by Elizabeth Gaskell (English classic)

“Lady Ludlow is absolute mistress of Hanbury Court and a resolute opponent of anything that might disturb the class system into which she was born. . . . The vicar, Mr. Gray, wishes to start a Sunday school for religious reasons; Mr. Horner wants to educate the citizens for economic reasons. But Lady Ludlow is not as rigid as one may think.

Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, by Elizabeth Gaskell (English classic)

“The story revolves around the arrival in the town of a young doctor and the attempts of the ladies of the town to place his status within their society and of course to find him a suitable wife.”

Democracy in America, Volume 2by Alexis de Tocqueville, translated by Henry Reeve (French classic, American classic)

“From America’s call for a free press to its embrace of the capitalist system Democracy in America enlightens, entertains, and endures as a brilliant study of our national government and character.”


Cranford

Cranford

I’ll admit that the little novel Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell, didn’t impress me much at first or even engage me.  The story is told by a young woman who writes about her experiences in Cranford as if she’s writing in her journal, which makes for a whole lot of telling and not a lot of showing. That, combined with the episodic nature of the plot, results in a lack of strong narrative drive. I kept reading because the style of writing, sense of place, and quaint characters relaxed me. I felt as if I had stepped into a world that didn’t exist anymore, and that, while not always happy or comfortable, was more self-sacrificing and less frenetic than our own.

Cranford gave me such a pleasant feeling that I went on to read two other stories by Elizabeth Gaskell that are similar to it: My Lady Ludlow and Mr. Harrison’s Confessions. It wasn’t until I had finished reading all three stories that I realized they dramatize some of what Alexis de Tocqueville describes—in philosophical and political terms—in Democracy in America, Volume 2. Tocqueville details the differences between aristocratic and democratic ages in great depth, and Gaskell breathes life into those differences as she looks back at the diminishing agricultural, aristocratic age of the generation that came before hers and gently carries her characters—and readers—into a more industrialized democratic world. Tocqueville observes: Continue reading

The Austin Family Chronicles

The Austin Family Chronicles, by Madeleine L’Engle (juv/YA fiction)

“In this award-winning young adult series from Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, Vicky Austin experiences the difficulties and joys of growing up.”


A Ring of Endless Light

A Ring of Endless Light

I found A Ring of Endless Light, the fourth book in The Austin Family Chronicles, at a thrift store earlier in the year and immediately fell in love with it. It reminded me of the higher-quality books I read as a girl and gave me quite a feeling of nostalgia. I loved the beach setting, and I felt at home with Vicky and her family—so much so that I read the other four novels in the series: Meet the Austins, The Moon by Night, The Young Unicorns, and Troubling a Star.

In The Young Unicorns, Chapter 17, Canon Tallis makes this observation about the Austin family: Continue reading

Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting, by Rosemary Sutcliff (historical)

“Handsome and gifted, Walter Ralegh was a star even in a court of brilliant men ruled by one of the greatest monarchs of all time, Elizabeth I.

“Ralegh held position and power, and was loved by the Queen, but his dream was to conquer new lands for Elizabeth, to find El Dorado.

“Bess Throckmorton was one of the Queen’s Maids of Honour.

“Shy and retiring, her dream was to capture the heart of the proud and restless Ralegh, in whose life it seemed she would always come second.

“But when Elizabeth dies and James I comes to power, Ralegh’s fortunes take a dramatic turn . . .

“Once a beloved courtier, he becomes a disgraced prisoner.

“And his dreams of reaching El Dorado seem to be forever out of reach. ”


I began reading this book in August, when I was preparing to go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with my family. No trip to the Outer Banks is ever complete for me until I make a visit to Roanoke Island, the site of the first English colony in America, which was organized by  Sir Walter Ralegh. Reading a novel about his wife Bess Throckmorton seemed fitting. Continue reading

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