Friday, January 4, 2013

Book Review: Brentwood (1937)

Brentwood. Grace Livingstone Hill. 1937. 315 pages.

Marjorie Wetherill had always known she was an adopted child. She had been told when she was so young that it meant nothing at all to her. And as the years went by and she was surrounded by love and luxury, she thought little of it. 

After the death of her adoptive parents, Marjorie discovers a letter written by her (adoptive) mother; a letter revealing some dark(er) truths about her adoption. Her biological mother wanted her very much--loved her dearly. But her father was sick, in desperate need of medical treatment, as was her twin sister. Mr. Wetherill promised to pay for everything the family would need, to see to everything in exchange for the healthy baby girl. He was very persuasive and she was at her weakest, perhaps. The deal was made; the adoption a reality. The letter later revealed how the birth mother came years later to try to see her, came with the money they'd received only to be turned away, dismissed without a thought. The letter was repentant, begging Marjorie's forgiveness. With that letter came her mother's name and address. And so Marjorie's journey to "her own people" began...

There was one man, Evan, who did NOT want her to go. A man worthy of being booed and hissed. For in his addressing his "darling," his "poor child," his "little girl" he reveals his true colors. He seeks only to possess her so he can control her. Readers are "treated" with his perspective revealing how he wants to "train" her and "mold" her to his liking, how when she is his wife, he'll set her straight and train the foolish notion of independence right out of her. One of the first things he wants to train out of her is her conscience. He doesn't like that she thinks of others--the world at large, the world outside his narrow perception of society. He wants her to be kind and compassionate--but only so that she can put him first and be perfectly obedient to him.

But Marjorie does leave her comfortable life in Chicago. And she finds her family just in time. Her mother and father are both sick. As is one of her younger sisters. They are about to lose their apartment; they have no coal for a fire or gas for a stove; they have no food to cook. They have pawned almost everything they owned. She's there now--for better or worse. And she's going to see to all their needs no matter what the fuss. She is their sister like it or not.

The novel chronicles their first few weeks together as a reunited family. It is Christmas time. And she's determined it will be the BEST Christmas ever...

While the family is large, readers mainly get to know Marjorie, Betty (Marjorie's twin), and Ted. Ted invites Marjorie to go to church with him. His sister, Betty, will not go to church. Marjorie is impressed with the preacher and the sermon. She's full of questions, and through asking those questions and receiving answers, she comes to Christ and realizes her eternal security. She is then most eager to keep company with the young preacher, Gabriel.

Throughout these weeks, Marjorie is trying to decide what is best for herself and her family...where does she belong?!

I enjoyed Brentwood. It definitely had some Christian lessons in it. It clearly had a couple of gospel presentations in it, conversations where characters discuss what it means to be saved, what it means to be born again, how you can know if you're going to heaven or hell, how being good isn't good enough, how trusting in being good enough is anti-gospel. But what I appreciated even more than the obvious lessons where the quieter lessons.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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