Book Review and author interview: Friend of God

This post consists of a book review of Friend of God, an interview with the author, Rachel Yarworth, details of where to buy the book and links to other reviews of Friend of God.

Review of Friend of God

Cover depicts a woman on a mountain and purplish sky.
Text reads 'Poetic, authentic lines... touching you with the love of Jesus. ' Anne Calver, Unleashed Church
Friend of God
The miraculous life of an ordinary person
Rachel Yarworth

My attention was drawn to this book in a Facebook group. I almost didn’t accept the offer of a review copy, but I am really glad that I did. I read a digital copy on my phone the evening I received it.

Friend of God by Rachel Yarworth has the tagline The miraculous life of an ordinary person. It is a memoir, which emphasises God’s leading and friendship in Rachel’s life from childhood onwards. The chapters are short ending with a sentence about Rachel (or people in general) and continuing ‘BUT God…’

This drew me on to the next chapter every time (although I actually read it in two sittings). There are footnotes explaining terms which may be unfamiliar to a general readership. The writing is good and the book has been edited well.

Many people (especially women) will find that Rachel’s experiences resonate with their own in some way. I found this an encouraging and challenging book.

In these uncertain times Rachel Yarworth’s message that the God of love wants our friendship is a reason to hope.

Interview with Rachel Yarworth

Rachel Yarworth drinking from a china cup decorated with baby owls
Rachel Yarworth

In Friend of God you focus on the way God has influenced the course of your life. There are some aspects of your ministry you only mention in passing. One of these is music. Would you like to tell me and my readers about your musical activities? Are you a singer or an instrumentalist, or both?

I am – or was – a singer (I don’t do much any more, other than on my own at home).  When I was younger I flirted with various instruments (e.g. drums, clarinet, piano), but never really stuck with anything for long enough to get good at it, because I preferred just singing; I could do it anywhere, without any extra equipment.  I sang in school choirs and informal worship groups, as a backing singer for amateur bands, as an alto in a 4-person chamber choir and eventually as a worship leader in several churches.  I’m not keen on singing solo or lead though: I much prefer harmonising with others, especially when it’s spontaneous. There’s something about the blend of voices all singing different but complementary notes, that feels to me like we’re touching Heaven.

On your blog you mention that you are writing more books. What can we look forward to seeing from you? Are you working on one book or do you have more than one work in progress?

Hmm, I’d love to know the answer to that too!  I have a variety of works in progress and am itching to get writing again – I’d love to get stuck into any of them – but I’m not sure which one is right for now.  I know writing is partly about the discipline: sometimes you just have to sit down and write, even if it turns out to be drivel.  But writing Friend of God flowed so naturally (at least the initial draft did, before I started the slog of editing and rewriting), there is a real part of me that is waiting for that kind of divine inspiration again.  So I might be completing my children’s novel, my Advent devotional, my study guide on friendship with God, or starting something new. It really depends on where I feel God wants to focus.  I get quickly bored of my own work if He’s not in it, but writing with Him is much more interesting.

Did you enjoy writing from an early age?

Yes and no.  I was a very early reader – I have always loved words, and read copiously – but it was at secondary school that I really started to enjoy creative writing, especially poetry and the occasional short story.  My creative writing tutor at college was very encouraging about the possibility of publication, but after I left college and got married, it just became less of a priority for quite a while.  Then when I started home educating my children in my early forties I felt the urge to start blogging about our journey… and I have continued writing in some form or another ever since.  I like the Isaac Asimov quote that’s on my website: “writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers”.  Writing is how I process my thoughts – a way of pouring my most complex subconscious thoughts onto paper in order to make sense of them. I can’t imagine not writing now.

Who is your ideal reader for Friend of God?

Ooh, there’s a question!  Contrary to current writerly wisdom, I never managed to pin down a proper target audience.  With God in the book’s title I figured it would generate most interest among Christians, but the whole time I was writing I felt strongly that I didn’t want it to be exclusively for that audience – I wanted non-Christians to be able to access it too, and that’s why I use footnotes to explain terms that will be obvious to most regular church-goers. 

As I was writing I did keep a few specific friends in mind (an atheist, a young new-ager, and an older religious church-goer with no concept of God as friend), in the hope that if I could speak to them, anyone would be able to access the book  But they weren’t so much an ideal or target reader as just representatives of the kinds of people I wanted to include.  And the lovely thing that has happened since publication is that yes, Christians are easily my most prolific customers, and they are a generous bunch, buying copies to give to non-Christian friends who they believe will enjoy it.  That has made me really happy, that they believe my book is accessible.

Ultimately I suppose if I did have a target reader, they would be someone – anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or anything else – who is interested in simply getting to know God as a friend.  And I hope that my book can encourage them in getting to know Him more.

Thank you, Rachel. I wish you well with your writing.

Book details

The paperback edition of Friend of God may be ordered from bookshops, the ISBN is  978-1739257705, or from Amazon where it is also available as a Kindle edition.

Other reviews of Friend of God

Alex Banwell

Maressa Mortimer

Liz Carter

Rachel Yarworth’s guest post for Claire Musters

Ruth Leigh’s Q & A with Rachel Yarworth

Natasha Woodcraft

Three library books I read recently

As I didn’t review any books in April due to the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge, and I am hoping to take part in some blog tours over the next few weeks, I have decided to catch up by posting three short reviews today.

Racing the wind by Patricia Nolan

Cover of Racing the wind

In Racing the wind: A Cumbrian Childhood Patricia Nolan recounts the story of three memorable years from her childhood in a remote village in Cumbria. I borrowed this book from the library and found it well-written and very interesting. As well as descriptions of many diverse characters, the way of life for country folk without access to most of the modern conveniences available in towns and cities is the backdrop for this memoir of a 20th century childhood.

This hardback book is published by Merlin Unwin Books and includes photographs.

The Pavilion in the Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith

Cover of The Pavilion in the Clouds

This novel by the popular and prolific author Alexander McCall Smith is not part of any of his earlier series. The Pavilion in the Clouds is set in Ceylon as Sri Lanka was known at the time of the story. It is a historical novel set in the 20th century. The twists in the story surprised me. There is mystery, deception and all the loose ends are tied up.

This book is also available as an audiobook and for Kindle.

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Cover of Confessions of a bookseller

Like Shaun Bythell’s earlier book, The Diary of a Bookseller, Confessions of a Bookseller is in diary form. It covers the year 2015. Although I couldn’t keep track of the numerous characters, I found this book entertaining and informative. It is available in paperback, audiobook and Kindle.

Book review Where shall we run to? A memoir by Alan Garner

Where shall we run to? came to my attention on Twitter. I requested it from the library. Although we rarely listen to spoken word programmes on the radio apart from the news, we had recently heard a programme about Alan Garner, in which he talked about his interest in archaeology.

Where shall we run to? A memoir is written in the voice of a youngster from Cheshire. There are many amusing anecdotes from his war-time schooldays. The author’s unusual education due to illness led him to become a writer.

Both Hubby and I read and enjoyed this excellent book (in the hardback edition). I was particularly interested to read it as I am working on my own memoir of my early life. A long time ago we visited Alderley Edge, which is a place of great importance in Alan Garner’s writing.

Where shall we run to? A memoir is available as hardback, paperback and an audio version is read by Robert Powell.