Home School Treasures

George MacDonald

(1824-1905)
The novels of George MacDonald all have a common link. I believe his purpose in writing is for characters and his readers to experience spiritual growth by witnessing the New Testament as lived through others.

" It moved me the way books did when, as a child, the great gates of literature began to open and first encounters with noble thoughts and utterances were unspeakably thrilling." — Elizabeth Yates, an editor for one of MacDonald's novels.

MacDonald's main characters live out and apply the word, the lessons, and the life and character of Christ with excellence. The characters become part of the readers life, forever to be remembered and easily recalled when the reader finds himself in similar situations. MacDonald's flavorful words and ability make the stories so real and captivates his readers. They left me encouraged, strengthened and caused me to question priorities, examining What is most important? What is my purpose? His books inspire the readers to be more thankful and more helpful to others.

MacDonald's novels are touching and have moved me beyond words to express their value. I am thankful for books that contain so many scriptures and especially so many scriptures that fit the circumstances of the story so well. But not all books from the same author are not of the same quality or excellence. MacDonald is a supreme example of the necessity that we must use our discernment to pick and choose according to our own convictions. MacDonald authored a few fairy tales stories that I feel are such a contrast from his novels. It's almost like two entirely different authors. "The Light Princess" and "At the Back of the North Wind" are two that I've read and would not recommend to anyone. 2nd Corinthians 10:5 tells us to... "cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ..." Some fairy tales are simple and harmless enough, but when writers use:

— mystical creatures
— humans with such unreal powers
— spiritual beings that are good but yet detestable in shape, form or appearance


They seem to contradict the Bible. I do not agree with books that use "darkness" i.e. horrid, scary, or evil people to describe Him, since... " God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" — 1 John 1:5. See more detailed explanation and warnings in the Chronicles of Narnia review at: this page.

In The Light Princess and At the Back of the North Wind* are two very unfruitful stories that plant more doubt and unbelief than anything else. I could find no profitable reading, nothing encouraging or enlightening. But in fact, the removal of God's existence or the need for God's authority and protection. Please use wisdom and discernment if choosing any fairy tales for your children.

Scripture References: Phil. 1:29, Phil. 3:10, Hebrews 5:8, James 1:2-4.
A reader writes:
I must disagree with you, Caren, regarding your comments on "At The Back of the North Wind". There is so much good that I see in this novel. I have enjoyed this book because, to me, it depicts suffering in the light that so many Christians fail to receive/view it. Recently, our Father has taken me through a journey to understand the importance of "suffering" in a Christian's (my) life and I will never look at suffering in the same light again. It appears to me that Mr. MacDonald had this view of the importance of God-ordained suffering in our lives and he has portrayed it through this story. For me, it is incredibly exciting to see the North Wind portrayed as God, who Diamond is admonished to trust in His purposes in spite of the harshness/ugliness that he (Diamond) "sees," that is ultimately from North Wind's Hand, and "appears" so very cruel. We would be very lop-sided Christians to think that only good comes from God's hands to us (i.e. blessings, protection, etc.) and anything harmful from Satan or the Flesh. There are countless scriptures telling us of the benefits a Christian derives from God's appointed suffering. Not only for those enduring it, but also for those who are privileged to observe the suffering, Not only for those enduring it, but also for those who are privileged to observe it, and also, our strength in standing, and victory. For if other Christians are viewing it correctly, in God's light, they will be divinely impacted as well, not to mention the benefit to the unsaved that God might choose to reveal divine things to through the Holy Spirit in these circumstances. But, we know, to the Believer who has been deemed worthy to accept this "cup of suffering," the benefits are growth and an image more in the likeness of Christ. And it is from this point of view that I am enjoying this book so immensely! — Mrs. Toney
Book Reviews and Descriptions:

Sir Gibbie or The Baronet's Song (1879)
This story opens with Gibbie, a young ragged urchin, running about the streets of an old Scottish city, giving what attention he can to his father who was once a man of wealth and position but who has become a poor cobbler. After his father dies, the story then begins the life of this child and his adventures. It contains vivid examples of unconditional love, selflessness, and Christ-likeness in such a way that you'll never forget. It is said that this story is MacDonald's favorite. "Wee Sir Gibbie" is the title that has been revised for younger readers and is usually in print. Although most "re-written" , revised for "younger or modern day reader" books are not advised because they are usually so watered down with the rich vocabulary removed, this book is still very good. It is a 5 star rated book and hard for publishers to keep in print.

Donal Grant  or  The Shepherd's Castle
This story starts out with Donal Grant grown and his life experiences in a teaching position and acquiring great wealth by God's divine hand. It shows the unimportance of great wealth for an abundant life, along with the effect that money can have on people. It too is very interesting and hard to put down, but reading this before Sir Gibbie, I do think it would have had more of an impact had I read Donal Grant's upbringing and his childhood with Sir Gibbie first.

Malcolm or The Fisherman's Lady (1875)*
There might be many situations or circumstances in which the reader can identify in this story of Malcolm. This story easily shows that hard work, diligence, and obedience to God sows a life of righteousness and reap its rewards. It is very captivating and I would recommend one have the sequel — The Marquis Lossie or The Marquis' Secret, quickly available. Malcolm is a character one will not forget as he knows how to overcome evil with good and he knows how to "carry his cross daily" — dying to self that Christ be exalted or formed in us. A quote that will forever stick in my mind from this book is when a scandalous lie is told against Malcolm and he seeks counsel from a virtuous woman who tells him, ..."Let it lay as the devils tail, do not pick it up, for even if you fling it to the end of the earth, it will stick to you. Do not excuse or deny it, but only address it if it is asked of you." Malcolm received much wisdom from this same character in the story. Words power and fuel rumors or lies, whereas by casting them aside and letting them lay without trying to protect and defend ourselves, we allow Jesus to be Lord over all by letting Him be our defender. This was also a powerful example of not taking into account the wrongs done to us.
A reader writes:
Hi, Caren! My husband and I read "The Fisherman's Lady" and "The Marquis' Secret" when we were dating and they are still our favorites. In His grace, Sandy
Alec Forbes of Howglen or The Maiden's Bequest
This story is about an orphan child, Annie, and her special friendship with Alec Forbes. Their adventures and heart aches are sometimes sad. Alec goes away to college without knowing the secret of Anne's peace and tranquility from within until he returns. It is a perfectly written love story, if you could call it that. Romance has it's proper place when divinely directed by the Lord. I love the turn of the century romance when written in this way. It was improper for the lady to say whom she loved and never made any advance, pursued the matter, or revealed her heart until the gentlemen did so first and in MacDonald's stories when romance does play a small part, as this one does, love was not spoken of until the proposal is made. This was the book that led to C.S. Lewis' conversion to Christianity, has been cited many times by Lewis and was his favorite of MacDonald's novels. This book is very trying of the readers forgiveness of one its characters. It's very surprising with many unexpected events.

The Elect Lady or The Landlady's Master
This story traces spiritual journeys of three young people. The castle owner's daughter, a farmer boy and a servant girl. This story may not well develop the characters as in MacDonald's other novels, but it's spiritual content bursts with far more than most of the others. This story is easier to read with less characters to follow. For a younger person or a busy adult, this book may be one of MacDonald's best to start with. MacDonald explains profound and simply truths through his characters as well as to his readers.

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Below are two links to read more about George MacDonald and his writings.

Free E-books online. Click Here to view a large list of titles available online. E-Text. This site does include many of our favorites.

Scottish Libraries Across the Internet
http://www.slainte.org.uk/scotauth/macdodsw.htm


The first title of each book above was the original title given by MacDonald. The second title was selected by Michael Phillips, editor of MacDonald's current titles that have been brought back into print recently. Being a Christian himself, Michael Phillips has done a wonderful job of translating the old Scottish dialect into readable material without taking away from the story. He gives clear examples in the preface of the selections that have been translated. I have read "Heather and Snow," complete and unabridged, and it was very difficult as many of the words were not in our English dictionary.

Boys, girls and adults alike would benefit from MacDonald's novels. They contain many spiritual lessons within them and would also be good read a louds with your family. Many were re-published by Bethany House. Click Here —> Titles in Print  for George MacDonald Books available. George "Frasier" MacDonald is not the same author. The Peasant Girl's DreamA Daughter's DevotionThe Musician's Quest, The Gentlewoman's ChoiceThe Poet's HomecomingThe Tutor's First Love. Most of these republished by Bethany House are out of print. Keep checking these links for any recent releases or used copies available. Heather and Snow in its original Scottish dialect (The Pheasant Girl's Dream) with (Far Above Rubies) is available in hardback for $24.00.

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