Book Review for S. L. Russell’s Land of Nimrod
by Julie Saffrin
I might as well say this at the get-go. For the review of Land of Nimrod, you will find some bias. I cannot help myself. For 246 pages, I was transported to England at the turn of the last century, where life is worked out by rain, train, walks and tea and more tea.
Land of Nimrod, which released late in 2011, is the third and last of Sue Russell’s Leviathan trilogy. Though one can follow the storyline well enough to read the work as a stand-alone work of fiction, I would recommend starting with Book 1, Leviathan with a Fish-hook and move to Book 2, The Monster Behemoth, as you will not want to miss Russell’s deft story-telling abilities, her characters and how they live life. All books are available as e-books so you’ll have no shipping charge worries. Perhaps the titles of these books don’t appeal to you. Don’t let them scare you away. We Americans like clear, cozy names for our books. All you need to know in making your buying decision is that these books are modern-day tales of ordinary people walking through life in 2001.
A well-developed cast of characters walk and talk with God to figure out life as best they can. One of my favorites is a modern pastoral couple Roger (said the French “Roget” way) and his wife, Claudine ― who enters a room with “a flurry and flounce of layered clothes, a faint perfume, a breath of summer in January.”
The third book opens with a delightful repartee between Eileen Randall, a Christian, and her husband Josh, whose marriage to Eileen has him, as he tells it, “beginning to bear fruit,” and “feel the influence of your faith . . . sort of like a cloud around you.” In their fifties, they are fairly newly wedded. Theirs is a marriage where each person knows and sees the good that exists in the other.
The British have a delightful sense of humor and Russell captures it well with these two lovable characters. In one scene, Josh is on the phone with his son Martin. Josh clearly wants to hear the juicy details of some good news but angles it in such a way so as not to admit it when he says to Martin, “Tell me all the details, because Eileen’s bound to grill me the minute I get off the phone.” Delightful.
And now, I take a deep breath in this review because life throws us curveballs (I realize this is an American phrase regarding baseball. I wonder, does cricket have curveballs?) Russell does not spare them either and I, as a reader who loves the writing and storyline, must go along for the ride. One phrase stayed with me through the book’s reading: “Can you let me know what I have to do next? . . . If I know what is coming, I can cope.” Isn’t that what we want in life – someone to tell us what to do next to make life bearable? How much simpler the road of life would be. But just like I had to reach the book’s end by reading it, we must go through life. As Josh says, “It’s time . . . to be grown up. To make decisions.”
To help our cast of characters, the book heavily references both the book of Isaiah in the Bible as well as Gerontius, a poem written in 1865 by Cardinal John Henry Newman and set to music by Edward Elgar in 1900. Though one need not be familiar with either to grasp Russell’s meaning by using these pieces, I found myself wishing I knew of Gerontius to deepen my reading experience of Nimrod.
I loved the daily simple, honest way in which Eileen lives as a Christian. Russell allows us to read her thoughts and prayers, from her doubts about what being in God’s will looks like, to just talking to God as if he were standing right next to her such as this prayer, “You made me, and you make me somebody. Make me the person you want me to be. Whatever it takes.” I believe God loves it when we interact with him in this way.
Russell’s writing made me stop and think, particularly with regard to grief and our ability to think about the future. One of my favorite lines is this one: “So the world goes on, never asking the reason why. Sparrows build nests, daffodils open their petals whatever the weather, the earth turns towards the light.” The difficulty in working through grief and its awfulness is that we humans, unlike other living things in creation, can and do experience loss. Grief is grief because we have the God-given capacity to think and plan for the future and deep down we know we’ll be forced to face it without our loved ones to experience the days with us. Russell says it beautifully, “I know it’s part of the human repertoire,” yet she goes on to remind and comfort us about who is in control, “ . . . it is love that holds creation in existence, moment by moment, breath by breath.”
Russell’s Nimrod is not like any Christian book I have read. Her characters are real, sinful but working on their redemption. Take the time to read, to marinate in the profound truths found inside of it. This book is a gem, captured brilliance of ordinary people living the Christian life as best they can. I highly recommend it.
To learn more about the book, click HERE.
Julie Saffrin, the author of BlessBack®: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life
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