The books from Salem Ridge Press are certainly high quality and high standards.
They certainly try their best to adhere to this verse:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~Philippians 4:8
My eldest daughter loves historical fiction and I thought this selection would please her since we’ve been studying the Reformation in history and she has been fascinated I had hoped this review could be hers and I would just offer assistance.
It was not to be. Liz attempted to read Margarethe, but did not care for the book at all. At least she tried. I do not fault her.
I admit that the book does begin a rather slow, but after I started reading through several chapters, it did pick up just a little. The language is stilted and old-fashioned (no contractions!). The omniscient narrator does not flow in writing her story as well as I would like. Margarethe’s personal spiritual development is just not very believable to me. It does not make me long to turn the page or stay up late to finish the book.
The characters are all flat and I have no sympathy for any of them. I could not admire the characters much. I find the main character, Margarethe, mighty whiny and prone to tears at the drop of a hat. I do commend her teaching her village about Luther. Her brother is trapped in the common old-fashioned beliefs of the weakness of women. He is constantly confused by the opposing forces of duty and the changing society he wishes to join. The old aunt is a shadow of a mother who has no power. The father is paralyzed by fear of poverty and the changing times and ineffectual with his children’s rebellions. The sister, Else, has been banished to a convent and is a poor gray loveless version of her old self. I’m sure Else’s condition must symbolize the darkness of the Church at the time while Luther and Zwingli offer the Light of Truth.
The best quote of the book:
“‘The Reformation must begin in our hears and bear fruit in our lives, if ever it is to be real and true,’ she murmured. ’But O, what slow progress it makes in me! how proud and angry I am if anyone ventures to cross me…
The freedom and liberty that we need, the freedom the Gospel offers to us, is the conquest of our own passionate hearts. Of course, I shall always be the same Margarethe in one sense; but I want to be a new Margarethe in another – renewed by God’s Spirit; and if I were, I should not have talked in such a passionate, defiant manner as I did today.’”
I was able to get past all that and relish in the ideals of the time period and how the people might have felt about Luther and Zwingli among the nobility and peasantry. I have dog-eared many pages that explain the Truths that Luther and Zwingli preached that the people were so fearful to accept under the watchful eyes of orthodox and often ignorant Catholic priests.
It’s just not a fun read – for my daughter or for me. And we are both prolific readers.
From the company:
- Story Setting: Germany and Switzerland in 1517 – 1522 A.D.
- Notable People: Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwinglius
- Notable Events: The German Reformation and The Swiss Reformation
- Originally published in 1879
- 280 pages
- For Ages 12 – Adult
- Softcover $14.95 and hardcover $24.95
You can read the first chapter here.
About the original author:
Emma Leslie (1837-1909), whose actual name was Emma Dixon, was a prolific Victorian children’s author who wrote over 100 books. Emma Leslie brought a strong Christian emphasis into her writing and many of her books were originally published by the Religious Tract Society.
Salem Ridge Press purchases many old books, often using leads from old catalogs, and carefully evaluates each one, republishing only the best of the best.
There are many selections from Salem Ridge Press about Church History, American History, and World History – for younger readers too.