July 22, 2008
Thoughts on GLH
This afternoon I picked up White Orchids thinking I might look it over again, and it brought a few things to mind that I'd wanted to say about Grace Livingston Hill's work. There's a scene in there where Jeffrey is taking Camilla out to dinner for the first time. Having been seated Jeffrey courteously asks Camilla if she would care for some wine. BAM! Camilla is struck sick at the realization that there is such a vast gulf between them -all the more impassable because it dealt with "moral standard" she had no right to break. If you read a few GLH books you'll realize this is part of her MO. Good Christians don't drink. And despite the fact that GLH absolutely rejects the idea of an effeminate clergy (most to all of her clergymen are brave, capable, and quite virile) the moral force against drinking is often displayed as feminine -it's the mothers, sisters, and sweethearts who inculcate temperance principles. Alcohol is portrayed as ruinous and very addicting. New imbibers are struck with a thirst that leads to them stumbling home and drunkenly making advances to the pure eyed maiden residing in their boarding house. There is no room in her books for wisdom, responsibility, and moderation. Its not enough to make me stop reading her books, but it is enough to make me wish that there was someone out there who wrote similarly pleasant little novels for the reformed Christian wine drinking set because they really are very pleasant books about people making the best of what they have with grace, courage, and a real reliance on God's direction and provision. Of course they're also fairy tales in which poor girls often marry rich men and poor deserving young men mostly make their fortunes. There are also kidnappings by the evil young men in which the upright young men get to rescue their best girl in the finest hero style. Like I said, fairy tales, but good ones containing some real encouragement and inspiration for Christian women -which is why I rather wish somewhere out there I could find a reformed Grace Livingston Hill whose characters drink a reasonable amount of wine, dance in a suitably modest fashion, and aren't totally dismissive of jazz.