Book Reviews

The Heart of it all

An highly ambitious (and accessible) book – an introduction to the Bible’s main themes in 100 pages. It concludes with a six-part short study guide, which can be used individually or in groups. It is written by Dr Sam Wells, who succeeded Nicholas Holtam as Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields when the latter became Bishop of Salisbury.

Saying Yes to Life

By Ruth Valerio, this is  the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2020,  Dr Valerio is a theologian and environmentalist who works for Tearfund, a well-known Christian agency working in over 50 of the world’s poorest countries. It is a highly topical book, available at the Shop for £8.95

Brightly Shining by Sherborne Library Poets and Friends

Some time ago I wrote about Brightly Shining, an illustrated poetry anthology by The Sherborne Library Poets in aid of Julia’s House, our Dorset children’s hospice. There is something in it for everyone. It is still available from the Abbey Shop. It costs only £4.50 and every penny goes straight to Julia’s House as the printing has been paid for by the poets. It is an ideal small gift, especially for someone who is housebound or in hospital.

Medieval Pilgrimage by Professor Nicholas Orme

For those of you interested in history, and/or the concept of pilgrimage, the Abbey Shop in the Close has just the book for you. It has been written by Professor Nicholas Orme of Exeter University, whose contribution to our understanding of England’s medieval past has never (in my humble opinion) been properly acknowledged. I greatly value his The English Hospital (1995), Medieval Children (2001) and Medieval Schools (2007). Now comes Medieval Pilgrimage, which begins with a study into the whole concept of pilgrimage, and then focusses on a detailed study of pilgrimage in the West Country, including Dorset (and therefore, of course, Sherborne). It is a beautifully-produced paperback, available at the Abbey Shop at the discounted price of £13.99. I recommended it most heartily.

The Poetic Mews: cats and the poets by Elizabeth Wager

From the pen of Elizabeth Wager comes The Poetic Mews: cats and their poets. Elizabeth is the daughter of the late John and Janet Cooper of Sherborne. Many will remember them, especially Janet who died more recently. This is a lovely collection of very witty poems, all written in the style of well-known poets of the past. It will appeal to all who love poetry, or cats, or both. It is priced at £9.50, and all profits will benefit the charity International Cat Care.  Available in the Abbey Shop.

The Bells of Sherborne Abbey by Peter Soole and Katherine Barker

From Monday 3 December, the Abbey Shop should have copies of a new book, The Bells of Sherborne Abbey, which I describe in the Foreword as “a labour of love” by its two authors, ringer Peter Soole and historian Katherine Barker. It costs just £4.50.

Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas by Sister Genevieve Glen OSB

There is a wealth of Advent reading now available from the Abbey Shop in the Close, and the bookstall in the Abbey. Do browse to find one which would suit you. For value for money, try the latest edition of Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas, written this year by Sister Genevieve Glen OSB. It offers a daily reading, reflection, meditation and prayer from Advent Sunday to Sunday 13 January (the Feast of the Baptism of Christ) – and all for just £1.50! You can’t get better value than that! The Shop also has a great selection of candles, Nativity sets and Christmas cards.

A Quenchless Fire by Rosie Lear

Hard on the heels of the Abbey launch of her first Matthias Barton mystery novel set in Sherborne, Missal for Murder, Rosie Lear has published another: A Quenchless Fire. This moves us on a year to 1437, with unrest between the Abbey and the townspeople growing – culminating, of course, in the great fire, responsible for the pink discolouration of the stone at the east end. If you enjoyed the first in the series, you will certainly want to buy the second. It is on sale in the Abbey Shop and on the Abbey bookstall at the discounted price of £8.

Missal for Murder by Rosie Lear

A really rather good first novel by local author Rosie Lear begins with a murder in Sherborne Abbey’s Lady Chapel. It is set in 1436 at a time of growing ill-feeling between the monastery and the townsfolk. It is a fast-moving yarn which makes ideal summer reading, if you like medieval whodunits, that is. I do, and enjoyed this one greatly. The Abbey Shop in the Close and the Abbey bookstall are now stocking Missal for Murder, at £8 a copy.

Every Pilgrim’s Guide to Oberammergau and its Passion Play by Michael Counsell

Those who have already booked for Oberammergau will be interested in the reprinting of an invaluable little book, Every Pilgrim’s Guide to Oberammergau and its Passion Play, by Michael Counsell. Published by Canterbury Press at £9.99, the Abbey Shop in the Close has copies at the discounted price of £8.50.