19/04/2011

The Vicar's Daughter (by George McDonald)

I wasn't at all sure what to expect from George McDonald, whose only books I knew, to date, were The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie, which I first read as a child, many years ago.

'The Vicar's Daughter' claims to be an autobiography, but is in fact a fictional one written by Wynnie, whose father is a gentle, intelligent clergyman. Wynnie has a happy childhood and falls in love with Percivale, a struggling artist. Eventually he feels able to offer her a home, and they are married with her family's blessing.

The book is a series of anecdotes, involving both Wynnie and her family and also her increasing circle of friends. We share her agony as one of her children disappears; we learn a great deal about the impoverished of society of the time, through the eyes of Marion Clare, a music teacher who has chosen to live amidst poverty in order to help others rise above their roots.

It's a rambling account, ideal for reading a chapter or two at night, since most are complete in themselves. There's no overall plot, and not a great deal happens, but character-driven novels suit my tastes, and I was able to skim some of the more long-winded passages.

There's a clear Christian worldview, whch comes out in various discussions, particualrly near the end when Wynnie befriends a hypochondriac woman who makes the most of her supposed illness. However I don't think it was overdone; there's no preaching as such. In places, the book was quite thought-provoking.

I downloaded this for nothing from Amazon, and read it on my Kindle, although the links given are to re-published paperback editions. 

Recommended, in a low-key kind of way, to anyone wanting something fairly easy, with more depth than some modern novels.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 19th April 2011

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