Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Book Review: The Home at Greylock

I will give you my opinion. I don't like this book. Ok, ok, I know that a review has to be a little more in depth, so I'll go in depth. I still don't like this book.

I had heard wondrous praise for Elizabeth Prentiss and her work Stepping Heavenward. Almost everyone that I know has praised that work and highly recommended it. I have it, but have not read it. Maybe that's where my trouble started. I had such high expectations for this book, and they were definitely not met.

The book is about Mrs. Grey, who has much wisdom to offer in rearing children, keeping a house, and progressing in one's sanctification. I purchased the book because of this review:

A masterpiece which explains the task of Christian parenting in story form. The wisdom of Mrs. Grey of the town of Greylock can be yours, and your own family can enjoy a piece of heaven on earth by learning her ways. Read these delightful episodes of those who meet Mrs. Grey and learn her kind, gentle, thoughtful and serving approach to life.

Needless to say, I was looking for help in my parenting and my Christian walk and I thought this book would fit that description.

First of all, I must admit, the style of writing went completely over my head. It was written in the late 1800's and I thought Elizabeth Prentiss was British because of the cultural references. She's not, but New England in the 1800's was definitely a different culture than we have now.

Secondly, I was a bit put off at the constant mention of things -- items that should be valued because of their sentimental associations.

I don't value objects. Some people would most likely say that that is to my detriment. I have wonderful memories of people and occasions, and I try to keep calendars in which to record memories, but if an item is broken, accidentally discarded, etc., I don't usually lose any sleep over it. This book referred often to the sentimental value of items.

Thirdly, I have a hard time relating with people who have maids, carriages, servants, etc. I realize that this was the custom, but it is very hard for me to take advice from someone who truly does not understand my circumstances.

Next, and this is where I really began to dislike the book. Mrs. Grey begins to scrutinize one of her daughters-in-law. This quote from the book left a poor taste in my mouth that I never recovered from. "Frank would not have married this poor, languid, inefficient woman if I had had the faith I ought, "thought Mrs. Grey. "But she is not accountable for gifts never afforded her, dear child." Now, I'll grant you, the daughter-in-law had some shortcomings. But nothing to warrant that kind of criticism. She needed to be taught not pitied.

In that vein, instead of teaching her daughter-in-law how to raise her children (what I thought this book was about), Mrs. Grey takes her children away from her and farms them out to different relatives, herself included, who could do a better job in the rearing of them.

Finally (and this is closely related with the last paragraph), Mrs. Grey intimates to her son that though he made a mistake in impulsively choosing his wife, he is still bound to love her. I agree that he is bound to love her, but to say he made a mistake is going a little too far. Is not God sovereign?

At the end of the book, there is quite a bit of death. Even Mrs. Grey herself dies. And though the characters that remain retain a bit of the grace, elegance and goodness of Mrs. Grey, there is no real application to sink your teeth into.

All in all, what I learned from this book, I've read in one chapter of many other very good parenting books. This was a storybook and not a very good one at that, in my opinion.


Claire Kennedy said...

Please contact me ,I would like to add you as a contributor to our blog.
God Bless,
Claire Kennedy

Catherine said...

That sounds like an awful book! What a discouraging attitude for a mother in law to have! I'm glad you reviewed the book so we'd know about it!