What I read in May and June

In May the second book in the series Tales of Goswell was published.  This is The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz.  I bought and read it on publication day.  Another blogger has recently written a comprehensive review of it.  I agree with his assessment.  The first book in the series is more lightweight.  The Vicar’s Wife was originally published as a serial in The People’s Friend.  It was then adapted for publication as a book.  The second book in the series was written without the restrictions associated with writing for a particular audience.  I am looking forward to the third book in the series.  Katharine Swartz has been blogging about the village on which the fictional Goswell is based here.  Of the books I am writing about here, this one would appeal to the widest readership.

The next book I read was The Unholy Communion by Donna Fletcher Crow.  This book is well written and well constructed.  Each character is introduced as they join a pilgrimage.  The subject matter was a little dark for my taste and I wondered how much of the style of worship would be familiar to people, who had not experienced (Anglo-) Catholicism.  The story held my attention and had plenty of suspense and action.  Donna Fletcher Crow recently wrote about the way in which she researches the background to her novels.

In June I read two second-hand books.  The first was The Riddle and the Knight: In search of Sir John Mandeville by Giles Milton.  History is not my favourite subject, but this non-fiction book was more of a travel documentary and mystery.  I enjoyed it and intend to write more about it later.

Also in June I was given a copy of Life at the Keswick Convention: A personal recollection by Maurice Rowlandson.  This was published in 1997.  The author had been the secretary to Keswick Ministries for a number of years.  He systematically presented a history of the Convention, his own experiences and his index card system, which enabled him to organise efficiently.  He was also involved with Billy Graham’s ministry in the UK and travelled to the USA a number of times.  I found the book very interesting.  It was well-written and provided background information about the Church in England, which I had not been aware of, although I was alive at the time.  There is also the transcript of a talk given at Keswick.  I have never attended any of the meetings at Keswick Convention, but know lots of people, who have.  It is something I’d like to do given the opportunity.

What have you read recently?  Have you read any of these books?


A classic matinée jacket

Matinee jacket

Matinée jacket

Recently I have favoured the activity of crocheting over knitting.  However with a new arrival expected soon in my family, I decided to knit something.  The pattern I chose is from Woman’s Weekly Treasury for 1985.  It has instructions in two sizes for a pretty jacket and bootees in garter stitch, stocking stitch and slip stitch.

Having used it previously I was confident that the pattern would be successful.  In any case Woman’s Weekly has a very good reputation for knitting patterns.

The magazine is still in production with an online presence.  I have signed up to their email newsletters and been impressed by the variety of patterns offered, some of which are free.

It has been a busy week with the outing I described on Sue’s words and pictures, singing in a concert, going for a walk with friends and other regular activities.  Craft group meets alternate weeks and this was the one.  That’s my excuse for a short post with one photo.

The yarn I used was Robin Bonny Babe four ply and the buttons from Milward.

I do not have any association with any of the companies I have mentioned in this post.


View from the choir stalls

Finding something to write about is not usually a problem for me, but I particularly liked this post by a blogger in Canada.

It sparked off a lot of ideas.  I had not decided what to write about for my weekly post on Sue’s Trifles, so rather than leave a comment, I shall respond in a post.

As a member of the church choir, I had a particularly busy Sunday.  We began with choir practice at 9.15am followed by Morning worship with baptism.  In the afternoon we had another choir practice followed by our annual Choral Evensong at 4pm.

The baptism was of two boys from one family and an unrelated baby girl.  The boys were old enough make their own decision to be baptised, but young enough to need godparents.  Tomorrow we are looking forward to a Confirmation service.  It is my prayer that these boys and the baby will all be confirmed in due course.

We had a visiting preacher in the morning.  He made a good attempt at engaging the interest of a large number of people, many of whom probably do not attend church services except on special occasions.  The third chapter of Ruth needs a good deal of explanation for those, who are not familiar with this amazing story.  A story of loss, mixed marriage, bereavement, loyalty, redemption, restoration and future promise.  The sermon series is “The kindness of God”.

There is much uncertainty in our community at present.  It is one thing to believe that God is able to bring something good out of a situation, which has arisen unexpectedly.  The reasons behind the changes are the subject of much speculation.  There is anger, disappointment, sadness, and many other emotions.  It is a time when everyone needs comfort, encouragement and determination not to be beaten by circumstances.  We also need to forgive anyone we regard as being the cause or complicit in what has happened.

Those of the community, who will remain after our vicar and many good friends have moved away, need to work together to build on the work done over the past years.  Nothing will be the same again.  Uncertainty is hard to live with.  This is where faith is required.  We need to remember the faithfulness of God.

After the morning service refreshments are served and people stay to chat.  I enjoyed chatting to a younger couple.  I had not been able to see them from the choir stalls and was pleased to spot them.  There were a number of issues we had spoken about previously, which I wanted to follow up.  They concerned involvement in the life of the Church.  We shared some jokes too.

The afternoon choir practice involved the whole repertoire for the service as we had not rehearsed with the guest organist.  Our regular organist and choirmaster was the conductor.

There was no sermon during this service and little time to reflect.  The service ran with few announcements through Evening Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. There were two hymns, an anthem (Come down, O love divine) and the setting in B flat of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by CV Stanford.  Only the readings and prayers gave us a chance to sit down.  The Psalm, versicles and responses were also sung.  We ended by singing a blessing (The peace of God).

I was too tired to attend the afternoon tea, which was on offer.  (But not too tired to prepare a simple meal for two!)

Singing in the choir is physically and mentally demanding.  The question is, what spiritual value does it have?  I often have to concentrate too hard to feel that I am really worshipping God through song.  When everyone is singing the tune, apart from the sopranos, whose voices soar away to new heights in a descant, we really do seem to be praising God in hymns.  During the week the tunes come back to me as ear-worms and I enjoy them again and am reminded of God’s presence.

There have been times in my life, when I have not been in the choir.  Listening to a choir singing an anthem as part of the service did not help me at all.  Perhaps it was because I was not involved.

The Church of England has a wealth of music of many traditions.  Choral Evensong is at one end of the spectrum.  Having a music group and singing from words on the screen, as is done in a neighbouring parish, is perhaps at the opposite end.  I enjoy that too.  In a large congregation gathered from a wide area for a Refresh Day, for example, I can join in the worship without any responsibility.

Music is something, which people disagree about.  Some only like modern music, others only traditional.  I believe there is a place for both.  Once I commented to someone that, in heaven people would be wandering around trying to find the sort of music they liked.  Her response surprised me.  “Perhaps in heaven, the music will be beyond anything we have ever experienced.”