And… it’s time for an August review! Sit back, grab a cookie, and enjoy. Here’s what to expect:
- An update on Thomas Clarkson
- Thoughts on life and growth
- Piranesi! (or, I won a book)
- My painting I mentioned back in July
- What I’ve been reading lately
Last time I spoke about Thomas Clarkson, I wrote about all the prayer which has gone into the project, by me and by others. This month I signed a contract to publish a Thomas Clarkson children’s biography! I am very excited, and overwhelmed by God’s kindness. Just because you’re passionate about something and put a lot of work in, doesn’t mean it will succeed… and when it does, it’s such a blessing. I spent August finishing and editing the manuscript, and it is which is now safely in the hands of my proof-readers (thank you!).
We’re always growing
August was a very busy, and at times stressful month, if I’m completely honest. Difficult assignments, surprise deadlines for various assignments all converging in the same week, some exhausting health problems (nothing major, just, well… exhausting!) and a burgeoning realisation that I’m a bit over COVID.
I’m grateful to God for his kindness, even so because although life is sometimes just plain Hard, in this season I have been able to see growth. We’re always growing of course, and God is making us more like him, but it’s one thing to know this, and quite another to see it. Lately I’ve noticed that Emily a year ago, five years ago, a decade ago, would have reacted differently. I have matured – spiritually, socially and emotionally. The difficult times in my life have brought forth golden fruit, even if I couldn’t see it at the time. Nothing is in vain.
So as my birthday draws near, and I realise (as I do every year) that I am not where I expected to be, or the person I expected to become, I take heart. Because my Father in heaven is working. Slowly, but surely, he is re-making me into his likeness. It’s painful and frustrating, and it takes too long, but it’s happening. So I wait in expectation and hope.
As some of you might know, I’m a huge Susanna Clarke fan. Up until this year she had only ever written one novel: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I loved it so much, and still think about it frequently. BUT she’s written another book! And I won a competition and for an advanced copy! And I loved it!
It took me a while to get into, and it’s very different to JS&MN, but it’s the sort of book which stays with you. You go on this strange, gripping journey, and you emerge with a new understanding of the world. Would strongly recommend.
“Nearer my God to Thee”
I realised that I never showed you the painting I mentioned ages ago. So, although it was finished before August… here it is:
I really like the story of the musicians on the Titanic. I admire their courage and their steadfastness. There’s something beautiful in their decision to play a hymn to comfort others, even as the ship went down.
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman
^ This was a lovely, heart-warming read – but what struck me most was that it was a book about healing. How often do terrible things happen to characters, only for the book to end? Or a Dark Past to be merely a plot device? That said, it’s not a book about Issues. You know, the kind which feels like it’s written so the author can tell you How Bad Drugs Are, or something. No, it’s a genuinely good book which manages to be both realistic and hilarious.
Four Quartets – T. S. Eliot
^I love Eliot’s poetry. It’s confusing and deep and absolutely beautiful. I particularly enjoyed ‘East Coker’:
“And what there is to conquer, by strength and submission, has already been discovered, once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope to emulate – but there is no competition – there is only the fight to recover what has been lost… for us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”East Coker – T. S. ELiot
Brideshead Revisited – Eugene Waugh
^ I expected not to like this… but I was pleasantly surprised. The writing is beautiful, the themes relatively thoughtful, and the subject matter interesting. For a book where not a lot happened, I couldn’t put it down!
The Wounded Healer – Henri Nouwen
^ Really interesting discussion of what it means to reach out to broken people when we ourselves are broken. I love his writing!
Othello – William Shakespeare
[watched, RSC, Youtube. Header image is from performance]
^ Talk about a tragedy. I generally prefer Shakespeare’s tragedies… but this was brutal. I think it was because, unlike Macbeth or Hamlet, there is no transcendent sort of aspect, which helps remove it from the every day (ie. no ghost, not witches, no prophecy, just evil, selfish men).
What about you? Read anything recently? How are you going with the whole COVID situation?