"...he (Wilfrid's uncle) treated me with a consideration and respect which at once charmed and humbled me." So it seems to me that, in the same way, MacDonald treats his readers.
This novel, written in first person, is Wilfrid reminiscing as an old man. The style is typical of MacDonald. Sentences are long with lots of clauses and phrases. It will not tire lovers of 18th and 19th Century English literature, but it may be off-putting to those with modern preferences. Virtues are always on display, including acts of honor, faithfulness, and devotion. Wickedness in various guises, especially pride and greed, are features of certain characters.
Wilfred is mostly admirable throughout his life, but is by no means without faults. At one point as a young college student at Oxford he confesses overweening pride and the deception that comes from it.
His descriptions of the friends and enemies around him are engaging in true MacDonald fashion. His romantic attractions to several women at different times adds interest and an element of intrigue. His pure, deep brotherly love of a fellow male student is moving and stands in stark contrast to the jaded contemporary view that any such friendship must have homosexuality as it's likely outcome.
By the end of the book, as an older man, Wilfrid has grown into a measure of Christ's grace. He confesses death to self-will. When given an opportunity to perhaps marry a woman he formerly loved, before she married someone else and was subsequently widowed, he defers to the will of God. He prays, "School thou my heart so to love thy will that in calmness I leave to think what may or may not be it's choice, and rest in its holy self." May that be our prayer.
Thank you George MacDonald. Thank you Amazon.
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About the Author
George MacDonald (1824-1905), the Scottish Victorian novelist, began his adult life as a clergyman. After a short career in the pulpit he turned to writing, and with publication of his novels in the 1860s, he became widely known. He wrote some 50 books, including poetry, short stories, sermons, and essays, in addition to his novels.