Novels to Nourish Your Soul
City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge (1936)
As with all Goudge novels, the city is as much a character as the people (though the sense of place is not as rich and developed as in her later books), and her sympathetic portraits of the people of Torminster are engaging and delightful. Her prose is delicious, and her insight into human personality is as helpful as it is profound. For those of us who are introverts, nine-year-old Henrietta is a wise role model.
The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock (1990)
I confess to a deep prejudice against so-called ‘Christian fiction,’ but after reading this collection of interlocking short stories, I am inclined to think that prejudice (like so many prejudices) may be unjust. The book is actually two sets of interlocking stories, one set in the recent past, the other in the early 1300’s. The more contemporary stories provide the frame (a la The Canterbury Tales) for the medieval stories of life in a Benedictine monastery. Be forewarned: the second story is pretty brutal (though not graphic). Despite the brutality (or perhaps because of it), a sense of beauty, kindness, and humor pervades these stories, as does a deep knowledge of the goodness and presence of God.