War of the Worlds (by Adrian Plass)

Adrian Plass is one of my all-time favourite Christian writers. In fact, he's in my top ten of all writers, Christian or otherwise. He has, as his site tagline states, a 'unique perspective on life'; he also has a wonderful way with words, and a great sense of humour combined with humility which sees him poking fun - even ridicule, at times - at himself, while somehow getting under our skin and enlarging on Christian truths that may otherwise be obfusticated.

So when I spotted his latest book 'War of the Worlds' on Amazon, I didn't even put it on my wishlist - I took some of my birthday money and ordered it immediately from the Book Depository (which offers free postage anywhere in Europe).  The subtitle is 'How to avoid leading a double life', and the blurb on the back says that Christians have a continual battle between their inner selves and and their outer faces, presented to others. I wasn't sure that I related to that, but looked forward to reading it anyway.

There were chapters on topics such as prayer, sacred cows, wasted weaknesses, unauthorised fire... and more. Good titles. Good topics. Most of them had a good sprinkling of Plass-like anecdotes about himself and his family, some of which brought a smile to my face. I love hearing about what he and his wife are doing, and feeling the warmth of their long marriage which shows through in a wonderful way.

There were also a few skits, several poems, and plenty of slightly random thoughts on the topics. And, I have to admit, I didn't find them as interesting as I expected. The writing is good, the skits mildly amusing, and the thoughts made sense at the time, but didn't leave me pondering them, and I'm not sure I can remember anything much from the book. I didn't understand the poems, but then I rarely do understand poems. So I didn't worry much about them.

And then I got to the last chapter, 'Coming Home'. It's just a story - presented with little introduction and no explanation.  And it's absolutely brilliant. I didn't see the ending coming (whatever you do, don't try and read that first...) and when I'd finished, I read it all over again to see where the clues were cleverly laid. It was worth reading the book for that story alone.

I still don't think I have a war going on inside me. At least, not this particular one.

Perhaps I'm blessed with particularly wonderful relatives and friends, who seem to like me as I am; of course I don't always talk about everything I'm thinking or feeling, but I don't THINK I deliberately hide things, and I certainly don't (as far as I know) put on a different face for anyone. The idea of wearing metaphorical masks was quite common in the 1980s when I was a young adult, but I never did really relate to it. So unless I'm totally missing the point (or completely in denial) it didn't really make any points that were all that helpful.

But still. It's Adrian Plass. It's great to know a bit more about what he and his wife Bridget are doing currently, and I'm glad to have it on my shelves. But I'd recommend some of his other books above this one.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 16th May 2012

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