Friday, March 20, 2015
The Brown Study by Grace S. Richmond
Grace S. Richmond is an author from that era who intrigues me because my grandparents used to read her books together when they were courting in 1917. Anyway, her book, The Brown Study, was a pleasant surprise in light reading. It had a nice twist on the common plot of "poor-girl-meets-rich-boy-and-they-live happily-ever-after."
Donald Brown is the young pastor of the huge wealthy congregation of St. Timothy's. After some soul-searching, he decides that he's wasting his life serving such superficial folks, and he makes the experiment of moving into a poor neighborhood to see if he can make a difference there. His friends think he's a lunatic and the gist of the book is how they all come to understand one another. (There's a little romance too.) The title is a pun on the old-fashioned expression "Brown Study," which means to think deeply about something.
Two other novels that deal with this theme are Harold Bell Wright's A Higher Call and Elizabeth Goudge's Gentian Hill. In these books the pastor is forced to decide if he'll leave a comfortable ministry for a demanding one. (This is also the message of Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted, which I'm reading right now so this subject is really resonating with me.)
There is a chapter that could not have been written today about how Brown borrows the neighbor's baby to cuddle in his loneliness. Modern readers would only see sexual implications in that.
This title is free for Kindle (My version was followed by a romantic short story "The Time of His Life" that you can take or leave.)