The Hardest Thing to Do is a novel, the fourth in a series by Penelope Wilcock. I have never read anything by this author and typically do not read fiction, but my hope was to break out of a reading rut to stimulate other parts of my brain!
Here is what I like about this book:
- Set in pre-Reformation England, this book has the feel of historical accuracy as it details the lives of a community of Benedictine monks. You get the sense that Wilcock has lived what she writes.
- The author writes very descriptively and joyfully. She uses words that I don't know (but probably should!) without making me feel illiterate.
- It is a story about monks. As a protestant, my opinion of monks is colored by Martin Luther's experience of works-sought-righteousness. After reading this story, I found myself longing for the monastic lifestyle, not so much for it simplicity but for the portrayal of genuine Christian community.
- The characters are honest in their longings, struggles, and joys.
- There are myriads of characters to keep up with (Brother so-and-so, Father so-and-so) but fortunately the book begins with a catalog of characters and where they belong in the narrative. By the end, I finally felt less confused.
- Latin! Wish it were translated somewhere in the footnotes.