Did we mention that several of our family members like to write and read? Here are a couple of recent book reviews that were published here and in the Young Christian Writer's Club magazine, of which we older three are members.
Beowulf by TimothyThe very idea of Beowulf as an ancient manuscript entices you to pick up the
book, compelling you to plunge into its almost fantastic reaches. And once you've started,
it's nearly impossible to stop. This saga starts as a nostalgic poem, recounting the 'prowess
of speardanes from days long sped', elaborating on some of Beowulf's ancestors. The
reader is soon introduced to the monster Grendel 'of Cain awoke all that woful breed.' 'But
God is able this deadly foe from his deeds to turn'; hence comes Beowulf, 'A greater ne'er
saw I of warriors in world than is one of you.' Great though he is, here Beowulf meets his
match, 'But with gripe alone must I front the fiend and fight for life, foe against foe'.
Beowulf however is resolved: 'I would work the will of your people fully, or fighting fall
in death, in fiend's gripe fast,' and 'I am firm to do an earl's brave deed, or end the days of
this life of mine in the mead-hall here.' The poet skillfully conveys the poem's rich tone.
Here he is building a wall of suspense 'when the sheen of the sun they saw no more, and
dusk of night sank darkling nigh...', '...and shadowy shapes came striding on...', ' Halldefender,
watched for the monster.' 'Then from the moorland, by misty crags, with God's
wrath laden, Grendel came,' to the mead hall where warriors slept. 'He[Grendel] spied in
hall the hero-band, then laughed his heart; for the monster was minded, ere morn should
dawn, savage, to sever the soul of each, life from body.' 'Straightway he seized a sleeping
warrior for the first, and tore him fiercely asunder, the bone-frame bit, drank blood in
streams, swallowed him piecemeal,' 'Then farther he hied; for the hardy hero with hand he
grasped, felt for the foe with fiendish claw, for the hero reclining,--who clutched it boldly.'
The fact that it was written some time between the seventh and ninth century
should give it importance in its interpretive purposes. It refers to a 'Master creator', once
to a 'sovran God who avenged Cain's killing of Abel' and even to 'giants that warred with
God', 'but their wage was paid them'. Though Beowulf is a poem, a work of fiction, it is
also historical and legendary in quality. The poet was either a Christian or familiar with
Christianity, as all of these references are also recounted in the Genesis-pre flood
narrative. Moreover, he refers to God as the 'Life-Lord of men, loaned strength-wisdom'.
Pagan, Germanic tradition is sensed throughout the work, yet the God of Scripture is
dominant, reflective of the transitional times in which the poet lived as Christianity was
being spread in Anglo-Saxon England during this time. The story presents a world view
that so contrasts modern culture and concurs with the Bible that it should cause any
serious reader to question life's most serious question: Master Creator, or Random
If you do not already have a copy of this saga, I would recommend 'Beowulf' A
Verse Translation by Frederick Rebsamen.
If you like Beowulf, you might also like 'The Song of Roland'. But that's another review,
for another day.
Little Men by Gabrielle
'Little Men' is the classic sequel to 'Little Women'.
The author,Louisa May Alcott wrote many stories
and articles in her younger years to help support her
family.She traveled extensively and died in Boston
I was especially attracted to this story for several
reasons.I was impressed by the compassion Jo
showed to all the orphans who came to Plumfield in
trying to train them up for God,and by the way she
and her husband managed the boys,encouraging
them to do right.This story has no actual plot,its
point being to follow the adventures of the boys.The
boys are inspired to be boys and the girls to be girls.
The children are encouraged to live in peace with
one another and to solve their differences.The
Sabbath is observed and the children learn that the
Lord's Day can be quiet and still enjoyable. The
children are taught that their jobs come before play
and work is made a delight.
One of my favorite episodes is their composition
day.The Laurence Museum has just been established
and to further their knowledge of the natural world
each of the children writes a composition that he
then reads aloud to the rest of the company.It is a
very humorous occasion.An exerpt from Nan's
composition on sponges:"Another use is to wake
people up;I allude to boys par-tic-u-lar-ly..."Some
boys do not get up when called and, Mary Ann
squeezes water out of a wet sponge on their faces,
and it makes them so mad they wake up."Here the
laugh broke out,and Emil said,as if he had been hit-
"Seems to me you are wandering from the subject."
Another one of my favorites is their celebration of
Thanksgiving Day:their creativity in designing their
play and the general atmosphere of love mixed with
'Little Women' begins the adventures narrated in
'Little Men',and 'Jo's Boys' concludes it.These three
classics offer a healthy dose of a vision of what
family life could become when tempered by love.