A Good Woman skewers Christian humbug

Emma Downes is a good woman. Deserted by her husband, she started a business, supported herself, raised their son, now a missionary in Africa, and became a force to be reckoned with in her church. A Good Woman by Louis Bromfield Frederick A. Stokes, 1927. 432 pp. 1927 bestseller #10. My grade: A. When natives […]

The Reign of Law Is a Dumb “Religious” Novel

The Reign of Law by James Lane Allen is the story of young man  with his heart set on becoming a minister. David’s parents think he’s too stupid for college, but accept his desire to be a minister as an explanation of why he’s always been so peculiar. After two years of hard labor in […]

Inside of the Cup is empty for today’s reader

When the aged rector of St. Johns dies in a booming mid-western city, the vestry look East for “a level-headed clergyman about thirty-five years old who will mind his own business.” They hit on John Hodder. For a year, Hodder more than lives up to their expectations. But gnawing at the back of his mind […]

Excellent Women celebrates the full life of quiet people

[This is one of our occasional reviews of notable novels that didn’t make the bestseller list .] Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women is a quiet novel of keen observation and droll wit. Narrator Mildred Lathbury, a nondescript, mousy, 30ish spinster, lives in post-war London very much as she lived in a rural rectory when her parents […]

Calling of Dan Matthews exposes church politics

Harold Bell Wright’s The Calling of Dan Matthews is so unusual a religious novel, it deserves to be called unique.  Although it didn’t make the bestseller list when it was published in 1909, I’m reviewing it here as one of the notable novels of the 20th century. While fishing, an Ozark Mountain doctor meets a […]

The Gown of Glory has worn very well

The Gown of Glory is a quaint, gentle novel, ideally suited to an afternoon when your cold is a little better but not all gone yet. David and Mary Lyall came to the small village of Ladykirk planning to stay at most five years—just long enough for the world to see what a wonderful choice David […]