Review of God’s Good Man: A Simple Love Story, by Marie Corelli

“It was May-time in England. The last breath of a long winter had blown its final farewell across the hills,—the last frost had melted from the broad, low-lying fields, relaxing its iron grip from the clods of rich, red-brown earth which, now, soft and broken, were sprouting thick with the young corn’s tender green.”

I finally found it! This is exactly the kind of a gem I always hope to find, as I browse and browse and browse in the vintage section at used book stores and book sales.


A novel—at least a hundred years old—with some wonderful characters, a can’t-put-it-down plot, a spiritual element, a bit of romance, the joy of nature, an educational element, all put together with excellent writing. 523 pages with not a single picture, and I couldn’t bear for it to end. I am still amazed that a 1904 novel can do that.

The story is set in England. Pastor John Walden, the forty-something ‘man of worship’, is introduced as having a cheerful, sanguine disposition, athletic looking, strong of character. He is the owner of one of the smallest ‘livings’ in England, an old relic of a church of medieval days, which he’d bought and renovated to the point where it was a tourist interest in the woodland village of St. Rest. A thirteenth-century sarcophagus was discovered during the renovations, which apparently houses a great saint. One window remains incomplete, for which Walden continues to slowly gather pieces of genuine, authentic stained glass, bit by bit, to fill a circular rose carving.

“He was a great lover of books and, to a moderate extent, a collector of rare editions; …He loved antiquarian research and all such scientific problems as involved abstruse study and complex calculations, but equally he loved the simplest flower and the most ordinary village tale of sorrow or mirth recounted to him by any one of his parishioners. He gave himself such change of air and scene as he thought he required, by taking long swinging walks around the country, and found sufficient relaxation in gardening, a science in which he displayed considerable skill…For the rest, he was physically sound and morally healthy and moved as it were on the straight line from Earth to Heaven beginning each day as if it were his first life opportunity and ending it soberly and with prayer as though it were his last.”

The story begins during the May-time celebration. The children parade through town singing, and arrive at Parson John’s place with the Maypole. He’d planned to give an appropriately spiritual message for the day. But with the little two-year-old Ipsy calling to her beloved friend, “Passon! Tum ‘ere! Passon! Tum ‘ere!”, he puts the child on his shoulders and joins their parade and songs.

We meet various townspeople, including old Josie who seems to be the only one left with common sense and convictions. Sinister, conscious-less Mr. Leach has his own agenda to further his interests at others’ expense, which includes chopping down the Five Sisters, a four-hundred-year old grove of trees that are the town’s pride and joy. Wealthy Sir Martin Pippett unofficially runs the town and its main businesses, but resents the reality that soft spoken Parson John Walden actually stands quietly over him in authority and influence.


One day Mrs. Spruce, his housekeeper, shows the parson a letter from Miss Maryllia Vancourt, the property owner, about her upcoming arrival. Mrs. Spruce is in a tizzy because she has a lot of cleaning to do in this house that has been abandoned for 10 years. This also disturbs John because for years he has been walking on Miss Vancourt’s forested property with his dog Nebbie (short for Nebuchadnezzar) and has even been using the library inside her house. He dreads the return of this modern Squiress, expecting that she most likely will bring modern ways with her, and will hunt, shoot, smoke, and perhaps swear.

Maryllia does in a sense bring modern ways to the village in the form of her friends and acquaintances, who exude wealth and privilege, living lives of bored gossip, fashions, food and obsessed with status. She, however, has little interest in such a lifestyle, nor is she interested in the wealthy male version of the same, Lord Rocksmith, who considers himself engaged to her. In herself, she presents a modern independence of intelligence, thought and strength, of poise and vision, of integrity and compassion, unusual for a woman in that small community of simple folk.

Maryllia and John clash, especially as he disapproves of her worldliness and the society that she keeps. Yet each encounter shows their true colors, pleasing colors. They are actually cut from the same cloth in their common qualities of humility, strength of character, goodness and faith. Eventually, they begin to see past their first impressions and develop an affectionate friendship, which leads to love. The ending is not predictable, and keeps the tension high until the last words.

Often throughout the book, literary geniuses are quoted, such as Chaucer, Spenser, Herrick and Longfellow. Here is a quote of Epictetus, which John is pondering:

“Had we understanding thereof, would any other thing better beseem us than to hymn the Divine Being and laud Him and rehearse His gracious deeds? These things it were fitting every man should sing, and to chant the greatest and divinest hymns for this, that He has given us the power to observe and consider His works, and a Way wherein to walk. If I were a nightingale, I would do after the manner of a nightingale; if a swan, after that of a swan. But now I am a reasoning creature, and it behooves me to sing the praise of God; this is my task, and this I do, nor as long as it is granted me, will I ever abandon this post.  And you, too, I summon to join me in the same song.”

“A wonderfully advanced’ Christian way of looking at life, for a pagan slave of the time of Nero!” thought Walden… “With all our teaching and preaching, we can hardly do better.” Amen!

I can’t say enough good about this book! Highly recommended for all ages!

Give this book to a young reader to introduce them to top quality, wholesome literature.

This lovely book is available through Amazon and other online booksellers. You can read it for free at Online books, Project Gutenberg, Public Bookshelf and other sites. You can learn more about the author at this U.K. website.


Understanding math a la Sir Cumference

A book review of Cindy Neuschwander’s Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone

Ages 8-12

Young Radius finding King Arthur’s Sword Edgecaliber

Our cast of characters in this book includes Sir Cumference, his wife, Lady Di of Ameter, their son Radius, and his friend, Vertex.  From the first look at the title, through the very last page, I was smiling at the author’s ingenious plays on words.  “Will Vertex’s sharp thinking give him the edge?”

In Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone, King Arthur has hidden his sword Edgecaliber, and whoever finds it will be the next king.  The only clue to its whereabouts is a parchment with a poem on it, as well as mysterious shapes.  The poem gives clues to follow, and later Radius and Vertex learn the keys to the shapes that look like tabletops (which math teachers know as “nets”).

Radius and Vertex set out together on their quest for the crown.  First they go looking for the carpenters who would know all about tabletops, where they learn that the shapes can be cut and folded into three-dimensional geometric solids.  This gives them their next clues and off they go in search of the sword.

And lest you think that the reader is only learning about polyhedrons in Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone, know that the friends ultimately reach their goal by measuring, adding, subtracting and dividing.

At the end of the book, a note explains one of the mathematical tests the characters used to close in on the place where the sword is hidden.  Ever heard of Euler’s Law?  Well, here you are introduced to this eighteenth century Swiss mathematician in an interesting and unforgettable way.

Gorgeous drawings fill the pages of this imaginative and educational book, another way to learn math—and medieval history!—while engrossed in an exciting plot.

The art is cheerful, and I’m sure you’ve guessed that the author is a teacher.  Since she hated math when she was young, she wants to help children understand math ideas more easily through her stories.

What fun—a heroic quest and math, all in one story!  With a great imagination and sense of humor, the author tells a great tale with an intermingling of mathematical concepts.  Think: Knights of the Round Table meet your math teacher Mr. Einsteinberg.

For a review of another book in the series, Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland: Knighthood by Degrees!, see my review at Best Children’s Books.

I can’ wait to check out the other books in the series, like this one:

Best Children’s Books and Much, Much More

While browsing around for children’s books (to read and study for word counts, language, etc.), I naturally googled “Best Children’s Books”. That took me to a wonderful website by that name. It is so full of useful information that even after an hour or so of browsing I feel like I have only scratched the surface!

Steve Barancik’s site includes not only book reviews and children’s book lists by categories, but also tips on how to make your child a better reader, free online reading, how to write for children, how to make money from your website, and more.

And you can see MY reviews by typing in Ramona Heikel in the site’s search box, or look for the reviews with “RH” beside them! Here are 2 of them to transport you back to a kid’s world for a moment…

Ramona’s Book review of Frankly Frannie, by A. J. Stern
Ramona’s Book review of Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary