A Review of “The Curate’s Awakening” by George MacDonald. *

{Guest Post by Mrs. J D White}

Romance novels have been a snare to me in the past, and so these days I do not read any hardly at all.

But I think I shall always make an exception for George MacDonald’s novels. I have yet to meet one I didn’t like, and of the several I have read, not one has failed to make my heart glad.

However, I think I do them a disservice even calling them ‘romance novels.’ They do have romance. There are characters falling in love, yes, and the story is written prettily so that you may feel you are in a sort of fairytale.

Yet that is hardly the best part.

They are ultimately novels about rather ordinary folk finding Jesus.

Oh, please, don’t go away just yet!! I know that I may have now made the books sound to you only dull and religious. “Good for you, showing off and reading Jesus novels, instead of regular novels,” you may think.

If I could only convey to you how magnificently these are written.

If you don’t love Jesus, you might find them dull indeed, but I think there’s also some chance you would find your own thinking kindly challenged and maybe you would even find answers to questions you have had but never had a friend to safely ask.

If you do love Jesus, well, you hardly NEED to read anything besides the wonderful Bible to get your daily bread – but if you are like me and enjoy (and even, in a way, need) stories that point you to God rather than fanning inappropriate desires or thoughts in your heart …

May I recommend The Curate’s Awakening by George MacDonald?

I had to read it fast. It was so delightful, I had to get to the end to make sure there wasn’t anything bad turning up to spoil it all. And by bad, I mean something theologically objectionable or morally questionable. I can read ‘bad’ things – but I won’t recommend things that I think are bad or potentially harmful.

As I read though, I could hardly keep from wishing I could buy a hundred copies to give away.

But this is hardly a review.

For a quick synopsis of the tale, then, The Curate’s Awakening is the story of a curate (basically a pastor) who has entered his church career without believing the Bible one bit. An atheist’s questions and a kind old suffering man’s rebuke send him on a quest to overcome his hundreds of doubts. As he searches, he encounters many hurting people (a murderer, a dishonest businessman, a crippled girl, proud religious folks) and we get to follow as he confronts his own weaknesses and disbelief in God.

I don’t think much more need be said on the story. It’s much more fun to read it for yourself. I suppose it’s actually a very serious and even sad story – but for all the sorrow in it, it left me quite happy at the end. For though MacDonald is not shy in considering the misery and darkness of the human condition, neither is he shy in shining the honest light of the gospel upon his poor characters – ultimately, I think, with a hope that by tenderly exposing the deep heartache of imaginary folk, he might point the heart of his reader to their own need and then to the wonderful remedy.

I don’t read these kinds of books because I’m good. I read them because I’m not good, and because Jesus is, and these books remind me of that.


*The Curate’s Awakening, by George MacDonald, Edited by Michael R. Phillips, published by Bethany House Publishers.


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