18/03/2004

A Smile on the Face of God (by Adrian Plass)


Adrian Plass is one of my top favourite Christian writers. He's best known, of course, for his 'Sacred Diary' trilogy; one of the few sets of books that makes me laugh out loud even on the second or third re-read.

But Plass doesn't just write humour. 'A Smile on the Face of God' is the warm and moving biography of Philip Ilott. The first chapters describe a little boy who was neglected and abused by his mother, but loved dearly by his grandmother. Plass can move me to tears with his writing, as much as he can to laughter in other books.

In the army, Philip Ilott became a Christian, and experimented with Church Army evangelicalism; howeer he was eventually drawn back to the Anglo-Catholic roots of his grandmother's faith. He becomes an Anglican priest, and marries a charming girl.

Life is never easy, however. Ilott goes backwards as much as forwards, sometimes, as he battles with serious illness, is frustrated by his teenage daughter, and has a constant struglge to search for his mother's love.

Brilliantly written, not preachy or cringeworthy in the slightest, with a surprising and very satisfying conclusion.

(You can also read my longer review of 'A Smile on the Face of God' written on re-reading nearly six years later)

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