Monday, May 29, 2017

"The Bronte Plot" by Katherine Reay

Lucy Alling works for one of the top interior design firms in Chicago. With the owner’s support, she has begun to expand his business by adding antique books. She especially loves the Victorians – the Bronte sisters, Mrs. Gaskell (who wrote a biography of Charlotte Bronte), George Eliot, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, and many others.

She received her love for reading from her father, and she especially loved his reading of the Beatrix Potter stories. But her father had long ago abandoned the family, and Lucy’s only contact is a book sent each year on her birthday. But from her mother, she knows that her father operates just the other side of the law.

Through the design store, she meets James Carmichael, a young attorney who shares Lucy’s love for reading. She helps him find book gifts for his family that contain special inscriptions. It is a relationship blossoming into love – until James discovers that Lucy has been writing the inscriptions herself and passing them off as the work of others – and bumping the price of the book up a bit. Their relationship blows up. And then James’s grandmother steps in, asking Lucy to accompany her to England on a buying trip – and to return something she stole decades before.

Published in 2015, The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay is a romance constructed around classic books, and especially those of Charlotte and Emily Bronte. It’s not a contemporary retelling of either Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, but it is certainly infused with a love and appreciation of those works.

Katherine Reay
Reay received her B.A. and M.S. degrees from Northwestern University. She is the author of Dear Mr. Knightley (2013); Lizzy & Jane (2014); A Portrait of Emily Price (2016); and the forthcoming The Austen Escape (November).

The publisher, Thomas Nelson, is a Christian publisher, but The Bronte Plot makes the themes of faith and forgiveness more subtle than one might expect from “Christian fiction.” It’s clearly there – Lucy will have to face the sins of her father, and, more importantly, her own sins, which extend beyond writing a few inscriptions in old books.

This was a good read on a very rainy day.

Top photograph: the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England, courtesy Visit Yorkshire.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A vineyard

After Isaiah 5:1-7

Walking the vineyard at night
one can almost smell the grapes ripening
in vain, only the smells of the night
prevail, the smell
of darkness, the smell of dew,
the smell of moonlight touching the vines,
highlighting the tangles of branches
and stems. Only in daylight can one see
the ripening. Only in daylight
can one know which grape to test,
to taste, to feel the explosion of flavor.

The vineyard that was planted
is the vineyard turned bad.
the fruit is bad, unusable even
for poor, cheap wine. The ground is
cursed, producing only briers
and thorns. The vineyard
that was planted is the vineyard
unharvested, abandoned.

Photograph by Paul Brennan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday Good Reads

I love old books. I have a couple of bookshelves in our basement full of them, and quite a few in the two rooms upstairs where most of the books reside. Michael Hyatt suggests that reading old books can actually give us a new perspective (as in, we’re not as smart as we think we are).

Writing isn’t just about writing – quite a few non-writing tasks accompany every writing project and career. Charity Craig as two posts on the subject. And Shannon Watkins is discovering a new trend in academic English departments – graphic novels (and that’s a problem). Tom McAllister wonders if the traditional literary journal may be ripe for something new.

Good poetry this week, and photography, too. And an article on how the Jewish song “Have Nagila” became as well-known as it is.

Ever wonder what the British did with the collection at London’s National Gallery during World war II? Or if it’s possible to love your ideological enemy (Karen Swallow Prior says yes).

And a hymn written for the Reformation’s anniversary this year.


Graphic Novels Are Trending in English Departments, and That’s a Problem – Shannon Watkins at the James Martin Center for Academic Renewal.
Art and Photography

Spring Wildflowers of Raccoon Cove – Tim Good at Photography by Tiwago.

Towards Immateriality: The Photographs of Davis Conison – Abstract Mag TV (Hat Tip: J.L. Jacobs).

Forget-Me-Not – Susan Etole.


May 18, 1980 – Daniel Baker at Altarwork.

The Spirit of Promise – Daniel Donaghy at Image Journal.

Shelf Protection – Jerry Barrett at Gerald the Writer.

Dresses – Barbara MacKenzie at Signed…BKM.

Historical Consciousness & ‘The Roman Road’ by Thomas Hardy – Christopher Morrissey at The Imaginative Conservative.

Monday Muse: Poet Melissa Green – Maureen Doallas at Writing Without Paper.

Life and Culture

Public Discourse in the Age of Social Media – Chris Martin at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Cognoscenti & the Apologetics of Curiosity – Kate Thomsen Gremillion at Literary Life.

Have Nagila’s Long, Strange Trip – Dr. James Loeffler at My Jewish Learning.

Friendly: My Life and Remaining Questions – Loren Paulsson at World Narratives.


Not Swayed – Jeff Selph at Selph Promotion.

How to Love Your Ideological Enemy – Karen Swallow Prior at Literary Life.

How the Protestant Reformation Renewed Our Church, Our Work, and Society – Hugh Whelchel at the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics.

Bright Possibilities – Jody Lee Collins at Altarwork.

British Stuff

The Frome Hoard and Its Impact – Same Morehead at The British Museum.

Reformation Hymn – Text by Chris Anderson, Tune by Bob Kauflin

(Lyrics can be found here.)

Painting: Woman reading, oil on canvas by Francesca Serra Castellet.