I usually like to take my books one at a time, but seeing as I couldn’t help myself, I am currently chipping away at three (very good) books. One is The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, another is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis, and the other is Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. I hope to write a review for each of them once I am finished with them, but right now, let me just give you my “first impressions.”
I haven’t read much of The Scarlet Pimpernel, but already, it looks fantastic. Baroness Orczy drew me in with the first line: “A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear, they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.” It isn’t hard to imagine yourself in Revolution-era France with descriptions as clear and fresh as that. She also does a wonderful job of capturing the soullessness of the French revolutionaries; the picture definitely comes across clearly in your mind, but it isn’t so strong that the book becomes an ordeal to read. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!
So a while back, I read the first three Narnia books and then set the series aside for a while so I could read all the other things I bought and never looked at (I’m the Charles Foster Kane of books 🙂 ). Then some days ago, I read the first page of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, meaning to leave it there and pick it up some other time. Instead, I found myself reading the first two chapters one day and another chapter the next day. So what the heck? I’ll try to finish it.
Now as for the book itself, if you thought Eustace was obnoxious in the movie, you’re in for it! The opening line (which is possibly the best opening line I’ve ever read) says it all:
“There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
Among other things, he’s a selfish, know-it-all who makes fun of Caspian’s gentlemanly ways and throws Reepicheep around by his tail. Talk about a character you love to hate.
I could never quite finish Prince Caspian, the fourth book in the Narnia series, because, for whatever reason, I could never stick with it. I was afraid Dawn Treader would be the same, but surprisingly, I was intrigued almost right away. And maybe Eustace has something to do with that. With him being so quick to mock Narnia and everything in it, I’d love to see what happens to him over the course of the story. I especially want to know what happens when he meets Aslan (I did see the movie, but quite frankly, I don’t remember how it ended. One of the blessings of forgetfulness: you can see the movie first and still be surprised by the book’s ending!).
Bonhoeffer is the first book I’ve read by Eric Metaxas, an author I’ve heard much about, but already, I think he might belong to “the race that knows Joseph” (if you understand that reference, I high-five you). His writing style is just like a novel: fresh, descriptive, and over-the-top in the best possible way. Take for example this, the opening paragraph of the prologue:
Peace had at last returned to Europe. Her familiar face–once evilly contorted and frightening–was again at rest, noble and fresh. What she had been through would take years to understand. It was as though she had undergone a terribly protracted exorcism, one that had extracted from her the last farthing. But in the very end, protesting with shrieks as they went, the legions of demons were driven out.
Not just your average, dry biography, is it?
As for the substance of the book, I don’t have to tell you how amazing Dietrich Bonhoeffer was. You probably know already, and if you don’t, you should stop reading this post right now and go find out. Really, it’s fine. I’ll wait. 🙂
Of course, life wasn’t all bomb plots and assassination attempts for Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a very influential theologian, so much of the story deals with the finer (and drier) points of church politics. But don’t let that deter you: Bonhoeffer’s is still an amazing story.