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Book review: Grandmothers by Salley Vickers

Book cover: Grandmothers with endorsements from Sunday Times and Philip Pullman

I borrowed Grandmothers from the library. At the beginning I found it rather slow as the scene was being set for three different families. I enjoy Salley Vickers’ writing and as I continued to read I found much to think about. A passage in which a child is asked to tell a grandmother about a book she has read, but is reluctant to do so as it would be a spoiler, was followed by a reply that the adult enjoyed reading stories when she knew what was going to happen. This prompted me to read to the end of the book, take a break and then reread it. I was glad that I did as I picked up details I had missed on my first impatient reading of it.

The views of the adults and the difficulties in their various families are interesting. An incident in Kew Gardens reminded me of a book I had read on BorrowBox, A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall. I didn’t review that book because some of the content was unsuitable for a blog intended for all ages.

The views expressed in Grandmothers about Jesus Christ’s death do not reflect Christian beliefs. I wonder how many people among the general public agree with the suggestion that it was Jesus’ fault that he died unnecessarily.

The Bible and the Christian creeds (statements of belief) teach that Jesus died to redeem humans, who were separated from God by their sinful nature. By his death, resurrection (rising from the dead) and ascension into heaven he provided the means of salvation so that people can live in relationship with God through the Holy Spirit (spirit of Christ).

Grandmothers is a gentle read. There are references to poetry and works of art. The characters are interesting and Salley Vickers obviously observes people’s characters and behaviour closely, giving her characters some of her insights.

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Christmas 2021

‘Tis the week before Christmas
And what should I write?
I guess no-one has time
To read what I write.
So to save myself bother
I’m recycling some stuff
That I’ve posted before
And I hope that‘s enough.

(With some new thoughts and a sound recording for 2021)

My prayer below was written as part of a blogging challenge in 2013 for Christmas Eve. It remains relevant today.

O God, our heavenly Father,
We praise and thank you for your many gifts to us.
At this time of Christmas we remember your mercy
in sending us your son, Jesus to be our saviour.
We pray for all the people of the world,
especially for those who are in any hardship at this time:
the lonely, those suffering in body, mind or spirit, refugees and all those without a home.
We pray for all who are working to alleviate suffering, to bring about peace and to spread the good news about Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit and in whose name we pray. Amen

The world has been a challenging place to live throughout the ages. Christmas services of Nine lessons* and carols begin with the story of Adam and Eve hiding from God because they had disobeyed Him. Genesis 3:8-15 It ends before the point where they leave the garden of Eden, often referred to as paradise. Genesis 3:23

*readings from the Bible

In the reading about the birth of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel we are reminded that ‘they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.’

The climax of the service is the reading from the first chapter of the Gospel of John 1:1-14. We are reminded that if we receive Christ we are given the power to become children of God.

In a Christmas concert this year I read two of my poems. Click the link to hear a recording of them I made beforehand.

My final recycled item is a Christmas greeting from last year with my colouring of Joy to the World by Isaac Watts illustrated by Jacqui Grace in her colouring book Images of Joy.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come; let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room. and Heav'n and Nature sing.
Joy to the World

My card is a reminder that Christmas is still about the positive aspects of God’s gifts to us including Love, Joy and Peace.

Whatever your circumstances at this time, I pray that you will be blessed with a knowledge of the Giver of all good gifts.

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Book review: Write Well compiled by Amy Scott Robinson

Cover of Write Well compiled by Amy Scott Robinson Illustrations are part of a pencil, pencil shavings, part of a pen

The Association of Christian Writers, which I joined in April 2014, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. One of the celebrations is a book written by members. Write Well a Handbook for Christian Writers is in three parts between the Introduction and Epilogue. The parts are Digging the Well, Priming the Pump and Filling the Bucket.

All aspects of writing from inspiration to publication are considered. Writers’ experience of being encouraged by other members of ACW and in particular the local groups are woven between advice about writing particular genres and routes to publication.

Over fifty writers have contributed to this work, which was edited by committee members Amy Scott Robinson, Jane Brocklehurst, Jane Walters and Rosemary Johnson. It was published by Instant Apostle. The ACW Bookshop on the website has details about the book and how to obtain a copy. It may be ordered from ACW. There are details above the picture of the cover on the website. Mine came from a friend, whose essay was one of the fifty included in Write Well.

I shall be referring to this book in the future as there is much useful information.
It has been my privilege to meet some of the writers in person and more on social media including online writers’ days and genre groups. Reading their contributions helped me to know them better.

There is an analogy here. Reading the Bible should help us to know God better. Do you find books more interesting when they are written by someone you know?