I received a free copy of The Pilgrim from the publisher, Instant Apostle. My loyal readers may remember that I have posted enthusiastically about Joy Margetts two earlier books, The Healing and The Beloved. The first thing I noticed about it was that it is a little thicker than The Healing. I as pleased about that as there was more to enjoy! (The Healing has 223 pages and The Pilgrim has 270.)
I read The Pilgrim from cover to cover the day I received it. It was light reading with a hopeful message suitable for convalescents. (I was recovering from a sore throat.) I was keen to find out what was going to happen in the book. There is rather a lot! It could be a book to return to.
The Pilgrim Will a pilgrim’s path be his saving grace? is the prequel to The Healing. Readers of The Healing enjoyed the wisdom of one of the supporting characters. In The Pilgrim we have a chance to find out more about how his character was formed. As he makes his pilgrimage from Abbey Cwmhir to the Island of the Saints, he learns about his fellow pilgrims and begins to understand himself and his faith better. Each pilgrim has his/her own story with its hopes and fears. The loose ends are tied up nicely as we are led towards the beginning of The Healing.
Although I read these books in the order they were written, it wouldn’t matter which order they were read in. Each stands alone.
There are relevant quotes from the Psalms between the chapters. These include verses from penitential psalms, other psalms reflecting the mood of the main character with the final upbeat Psalm being the Passion translation of Psalm 103.
The sketch map of the route is helpful. And there are horses!
Joy Margetts is a regular contributor to the online magazine, Mom’s Favorite Reads. A story about two of the characters from The Pilgrim appeared in the July edition on page 77. If you read it before The Pilgrim you will know more of the background. If (as I did) you read it afterwards, it is an interesting story.
I usually read any book I review here on Sue’s Trifles from cover to cover before I write about it. The reason I am making an exception in this case is that the books are worth mentioning although I have not yet reached the end of them.
I received The Infographic Bible: Visualising the Drama of God’s Word as a Christmas present soon after it was published in November 2018. Karen Sawrey presents an enormous amount of information from the Bible in a diagrammatic form. It is not for people, who find reading difficult, but is a useful way of seeing an overview of various aspects of, for example, Biblical history mostly in large double spreads.
Two examples of the sort of information collated in The Infographic Bible from input provided by a large team of experts are clean and unclean animals, and the good and bad kings with the prophets of their times.
I began reading it from cover to cover and reached pages 86/87 out of 224. Having picked it up again to write this review I am inclined to take a really good look at it to find out what is included, rather than reading every word. When I have learned my way around it, it will become a useful reference book.
I was interested to note that one of the contributors was Nick Page.
The Book of Psalms in Rhyme
The second book I am reviewing here is another rather ambitious project based on the Bible.
I received a .pdf Advance Review Copy of The Book of Psalms in Rhyme on the understanding that I’d post an honest review on goodreads and/or Amazon. The launch date of 30 August 2021 was too close to the date I received the ARC for me to be able to read the entire book.
Regular readers of this blog will know that The Psalms are one of my favourite parts of the Bible and writing rhyme is one of my interests. To render all 150 psalms in rhyme is a big project and Brendan Conboy has done well. His style is similar to rap, with some long rhyming lines and other lines with rhyming words in the middle and at the end.
Before the launch date I only managed to read about 20 of the rhyming psalms. They are true to the meaning of the English translations of the Psalms. David’s earnest rhyming prayers have an urgency and vibrancy, which might be missed in older versions.
I particularly like the rendering of Selah as (Pause in his presence). The Psalms are meant to be used to learn about and draw closer to God. This book will be helpful and I look forward to reading it to the end.
Jocelyn-Anne Harvey has taken the story of Noah and the flood as her starting point for this book, focussing on how life would have been for the four women in the ark. There are three strands to the book. The first is the Bible. The second is how life is for people at present with the uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The third is aspects of the author’s life, which illustrate the way God works. The three strands are spun into a seamless narrative. I was reminded of part of the verse Ecclesiastes 4:12:
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
NKBSG is well-written and asks many questions of the reader. After each chapter there are contemplations and journaling exercises. These are well thought out and refer to other passages of scripture besides Genesis (the book where the story of Noah is told). The Psalms feature strongly, but we are taken on a journey all the way from the creation story in the first book of the Bible, Genesis to the last book, Revelation.
Although NKBSG is written for female readers, men might also learn from it. Noah is a major character after all.
I enjoyed this book and found much to ponder on. Its publication is timely as people try to pick up their lives after the pandemic.
Jocelyn-Anne Harvey has answered some questions I put to her about writing this book.
At the beginning of the book, you described how an event in 2008 near where you live was part of the inspiration for this book, and at the end you mention the encouragement you had to continue writing stories about Noah. Did pursuing a Creative Writing MA course increase your confidence in your ability as a writer?
Firstly, thank you for reading the Acknowledgements; well spotted about the MA encouragement I had for the Flood stories! I think in the sense of increasing confidence whatever we do to develop our writing muscle helps our ability. This could be anything from reading a writing blog, learning online or chatting with fellow writers. However, I think for me the discipline of postgraduate study and regular deadlines helped me to progress.
It was good to have the opportunity to dive deeper, read lots and especially workshopping –we had small groups where we both gave and received feedback for pieces written during each module. There were many times when I didn’t feel ‘good enough’ or made comparisons. But receiving positive feedback from my peers and lecturers did give me a confidence boost.
Through hindsight’s lens I’ve realised how my writing has developed since completing the Masters. I don’t think you’re fully aware when you’re caught up in the learning environment, but when I look back I can see the progress I’ve made. And I’m still balancing that tricky area of confidence and writing. I don’t think we can ever be completely confident as writers and perhaps that’s a good thing. In one way the wobbly area of doubt drives us to continually improve but what we don’t want is that doubt to stop us from picking up the pen or stop us from getting the pleasure that writing brings. I’m so glad that irrespective as to how I feel about my writing I can take confidence in the Lord and who I am in Him.
While you were writing NKBSG were you still travelling to work each day?
No, thankfully I didn’t have a commute while writing NKBSG neither was I working. For me, lockdown gave me opportunity to have the writing time. I commuted throughout my MA but wrote short stories, poems or flash fiction. I’m not sure whether I’d have been able to have had the focus to work on a longer manuscript whilst travelling up to London. Though having said that, maybe if I’d have had the impetus to write NKBSG then I would have done. It’s all about the timings with our writing work, isn’t it? As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 there is a season and a time for everything. I trust the Lord knew the time for my book to be written.
All writers are encouraged to read. Apart from the Bible, what are your favourite books?
I’m glad you mentioned the Bible because I always want to say that first when anyone asks me this question. There are so many favourite books I could choose. This is tricky! But the immediate books that come to mind are:
The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. I love Anne’s character and how Montgomery throughout the series shows her growing up and becoming a woman. Since childhood I’ve also identified with the main protagonist because ‘I’m an Anne with a e’ too!
The Rose Revived by Katie Fforde. Some books I can only read one time but this is a book I return to at least once a year. The story is so comforting like a bowl of chicken soup. And though I may know what’s coming next, I always find I’m surprised or pick up something new. Perhaps it’s because we change as we grow so our reaction to a book does too.
Cookbooks. Any kind from Mrs Beeton to Mary Berry. I love food and when you read Not Knowing, but Still Going there is even a section about eating. I often read cookbooks at bedtime but don’t have the time to make all the dishes the next day!
It might sound a bit strange to have an author say cookbooks are one of her favourite books but when you read a recipe closely there is quite an art to the way words have been used. You can learn a lot from thinking about how instructions have been described to the figurative language used to bring the cooking process and dish alive – Nigella is a great example of this.
Thank you, Jocelyn-Anne. We share some of the same tastes in literature. It is a long time since I read Anne of Green Gables, but I still remember the scene where she used a swear word and how she felt afterwards. I hope NKBSG has similar lasting impressions on its readers.
Author bio – Jocelyn-Anne loves the Lord, learning and literature. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, and her flash fiction has been published. Having taken the leap from her senior HR role in the UK Government, Jocelyn-Anne can identify with those walking through uncertain times, and she is passionate about supporting others through theirs and helping them develop. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in a coffee shop with friends, exploring coastal paths or trying out recipes.
If you’d like to connect with Jocelyn-Anne Harvey search for her on Facebook and Instagram.