Author: George MacDonald (1824 – 1905), edited by Dan Hamilton (1997)
Publisher: ChariotVictor Publishing
Publisher’s Intended Audience: Young Adults and Adults
Summary: A new vicar comes to Marshmallows parish where he, with faltering steps, learns to shepherd his first flock. The vicar, Harry Walton, enters the lives of his parishioners, teaching them much about the nature of God but also learning much from them. Along the way, he falls in love with the daughter of the church’s most powerful – and most broken –family
Literary elements at work in the story (genre/setting/characterization /plot/theme/point of view/style): Fiction novel set in Marshmallows, a thinly veiled reflection of Arundel, England during the Victorian era. As with most of MacDonald’s novels, A Quiet Neighborhood is a study of characters and places with which he was familiar. Before becoming a novelist, MacDonald was himself a clergyman and displays a serious devotion to Jesus Christ through the eyes and life of at least one character in his book.
Scripture: Matthew 6:24, Isaiah 26:3
Theology: This novel is rich with theological concepts and can be discussed from any number of points of view. I will focus here, however, on Old Rogers. He was the character through whom MacDonald chose to demonstrate the concept of the Christian life. His devotion to God was deep, his faith in Jesus sincere, and his desire to live in a way that would be pleasing to his Savior strong. For Old Rogers, Jesus was a very real presence and his primary role model.
Faith Talk Questions (Intended for use with youth and adults):
- What are some of the things we learn in the first three chapters about Old Rogers – his life, his history, and his faith?
- How did Old Rogers’ refusal of the gardening job offered by Mr. Walton display love for his neighbor?
- What was Old Rogers’ primary method for discerning the will of God for himself?
- When asked what the Lord would say about his pipe, his response was, “Why, Sir, I thought He would say, ’Old Rogers, have yer baccay – only mind ye don’t grumble when you ain’t got none.’” How does such a conversation with Jesus strike you? What wisdom (or folly) do you see in Old Rogers’ thought?
- What do you suppose Old Rogers meant when he said, “we ain’t got to do with the look o’ things, but with the things themselves.”? What are some ways that you dwell “on the look o’ things?” What are some ways that society does? How might those things look different if seen from a Christian perspective?
Review prepared by Kelly Hames, MACE, Entering cohort – 2008
A Quiet Neighborhood by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.