Maggie Shaw’s Book of the Month | July 2021

Hi, there. Maggie Shaw here, proud owner of Eregendal and author,

As a lifelong lover of reading, each month I choose one of my favourite books – and tell you all about it.

For July’s Book of the Month I have chosen Descent into Hell by Charles Williams (1937). Williams was one of the Inklings, a group of authors which met regularly in Oxford for many years and included J R R Tolkein and C S Lewis.

This though-provoking novel follows four residents of Battle Hill, an outer suburb of London, as the residents put on a play written by the famous poet who lives among them. While the play is a success, the spiritual careers of the four: Pauline, Adela, the poet Stanhope and the historian Wentworth; go in diverging directions as each responds to the small daily choices they face over that summer.

The novel is not an easy read in modern terms, as there are many long, sometimes obscure descriptive passages, and parts of the dialogue can be cryptic. However, it is remarkable in the way it describes the situations of those who are lost between heaven and hell, how some of them came there, and how one of the four main characters descends further than them, lured into hell by seductive temptations which eventually turn to dust. The novel also describes a practical working out of the Christian doctrine of substitution and redemption in the amicable relationship between two of the four main characters.

Finishing the book has left me reflecting on the need to take care about every decision I make, whether large or small, as each one influences my life direction.

So there we have it, July’s Book of the Month! Be sure to check back in August as I’ll be revealing another must read…

Take care,

Maggie x

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