I would like to preface this review by saying that I did enjoy reading this book. I really did.
It is not what I expected….
This book is incredibly difficult to read. I kept finding myself putting it down after three pages and trying to digest what I read. I kept finding myself in need of a dictionary. That doesn’t happen very often to me! The book contains an innumerable number of excerpts from the time of Chesterton (1874-1936) when vocabulary and sentence structure was far more complex and verbose. Several times I would struggle through a chapter and then wonder why I had even bothered to read it. Then, I would read the next chapter and thoroughly enjoy it.
I would like to read three or four of Chesterton’s own works and then come back and read this biography again. I think it would make so much more sense then! In fact, I found myself wanting several of the books discussed. I am hoping to find copies of The Man Who Was Thursday and Orthodoxy. I may even try to find a copy of his critical literary analysis called Charles Dickens. I would love to listen to Orson Wells’ radio theater version of The Man Who Was Thursday.
In that sense, the author accomplished his goal stated in the preface, to interest readers in Chesterton’s work.
What I expected was an enjoyable historical biography of a Christian man that perhaps my children would enjoy reading in high school. What I found was a mature, detailed, and sometimes verbose discussion of Chesterton’s most important literary contributions with only occasional references to his family or his upbringing. I had no idea the man started as a literary critic. You know, writing reviews of other people’s books… I was a bit intimidated to write a review of his biography! I am certainly not an accomplished reviewer in the way that he was. In fact, according to the author (Kevin Belmonte) Mr. Chesterton’s book titled Charles Dickens (1905) singlehandedly sparked a revival of interest in Dickens which continues to this day. I’m a fan of Dickens. Are you?
I found out that G.K. Chesterton had 12,000 books, and I would like to have inherited that library. We certainly would have had books in common.
I also found out that Mr. Chesterton was fat.
Another discovery of mine worth mentioning is that both C.S. Lewis and Phillip Yancey have credited the works of Mr. Chesterton for spiritual renewal. That definitely makes me want to read books by Chesterton. As long as I have a dictionary nearby, I’ll be fine.
My Bottom Line: I highly recommend this book to anyone who has already read and enjoyed the works of G.K. Chesterton. You are going to love this book. I certainly recommend this book to anyone looking to read scholarly biographies with plenty of Old English sprinkled about. If you are looking the more typical storied biography full of attention-grabbing story, this is probably not the book for you. I will be keeping it on my shelf and I hope to come back to it someday a little bit more prepared.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookSneeze blogger review program in exchange for an honest review on my blog. Here you have it.