For two years, I thought my European Reading Challenge book selections were going to include novels from my favorite continent. Instead, 2017 became the year of “thoughts on living life,” and 2018 was the year of spiritual classics. This time, for sure, 2019 will be the year of European novels.
The Poldark series is being gloriously brought to life by Masterpiece, and the fourth season recently aired in the United States. Because the story of Poldark takes place over decades, watching the television series has made me think about the way life unfolds over long periods of time.
Gilion’s rules are simple, and the goal is five books from different European countries:
The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it’s supposed to be a tour.
“If we are earnest about our souls, with a quiet fidelity to those duties, practices, and devotions which obedience sanctions to us, our love of God increases without our knowing or feeling it. It is only now and then…that God allows us to perceive that we have really made some progress, and that we care more for Him and less of anything else but Him, than we used to do.”
I happened to be reading Sophia Institute Press’s publication of Finding God’s Will for You while in Chicago. The painting on the cover of my edition of this book features Renoir’s portrait “Alfred Sisley,” a pensive man perhaps pondering God’s will for his life. I ran into the original of Monsieur Sisley’s portrait at the Art Institute of Chicago. Neither words nor photographs can convey the awe of looking at the Impressionist masters’ oil paintings in person.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed Prince Louis Arthur Charles into the world on April 23. This day had special meaning for Anglophiles everywhere as also being the feast day of St. George, patron saint of England, and the birthday of William Shakespeare.
My European Reading Challenge this year was going to include novels from my favorite continent to which I wanted to give some time. England was going to be Winston Graham’s Poldark series. Norway was to be a rereading of Sigrid Undset’s Ida Elisabeth or Kristin Lavransdatter.
Instead, 2018 has become the year of spiritual classics.
The tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on the virtue of hope, Spe Salvi, or Saved in Hope, passed in November 2017. (Benedict is German, of Bavarian heritage.) I reread it for the first time in a while.