Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: Marie Durand

In a day when "Every detail of the palace and its grounds was meant to glorify the king" (pg. 60), how does one woman glorify the King of Kings? Simonetta Carr's latest book, Marie Durand, paints a clear portrait of a woman who did just that. To some, the life of Marie Durand may seem wasted as they reason, "How can a woman who spends more of her life in prison than out of it be of any use to God?" To others, Marie's life will prove faith-building as she chose to be an instrument in God's hands in the midst of trying circumstances, using her knowledge and skills to teach and encourage others, rather than simply pining away in a prison, overcome with self-pity.

Marie's life is instructive, answering the timely question, "How should we live in the midst of persecution?" We see how God sustained her and enabled her to live a life of persistence, resolve, and faithfulness throughout her imprisonment. Although she spent time writing letters to secure provisions and request release for herself and the other prisoners, she did not allow these matters to consume her overly or prevent her from living a fruitful life but "…simply continued to do what God called her to do every day, keeping her eyes on the future 'triumph of glory,' loving those around her, and thanking God for what she described as 'the honor of wearing His uniform for His just cause" (pg. 53).

Marie Durand is the ninth book in the "Christian Biographies for Young Readers" series, and the second of these biographies to highlight a female. It is enhanced by a letter from Marie to her niece, Anne, which is included at the end of the book and reflects Marie's humility and hope in God. This seems particularly fitting since much of what is known about this fairly ordinary woman is a result of her correspondence.

When it comes to church history, "Christian Biographies for Young Readers" is one of our family's favorite series for children.  As I've written before, Ms. Carr is a very gifted author and one of my personal  favorites as her writing has a purpose and depth which exceeds that found in much of written material for children today. I am grateful that she continues to add to this exceptional series!

As with previous volumes in the series, readers of Marie Durand will encounter a carefully researched account that is instructive and edifying.  Understanding is aided by a map and a  timeline, which Ms. Carr has thoughtfully included. The text is adorned with delightful illustrations and well chosen, intriguing photos, as one can see from the sample pages which  Reformation Heritage Books has provided. What can't be conveyed in these samples is that these sixty sturdy pages are contained in a  hardy hardcover with a stitched binding, making this book a collectible title that will endure many years of enjoyment, as we've come to expect from this high quality series.

I commend the biography, Marie Durand, and pray that many will be strengthened as they seek to persevere in light of God's faithfulness. The profitability of studying the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us cannot be understated!!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted"(Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV).

You can read more about Simonetta Carr's "Christian Biographies for Young Readers" here, as well as, download activity pages for several existing titles (Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin) and a study guide for John Owen.

*Many thanks to Cross Focused Reviews, Reformation Heritage Books, and Simonetta Carr for providing me with a complimentary copy of Marie Durand in exchange for my honest opinion!

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