Winsome Winnie – Emily Spratling

Another of the treasures from my £5 auction lot of books from the early part of 20th century. This one has a gorgeous cover and although it doesn’t have a Sunday School prize book plate in it, it was clearly written to be such a book. This copy isn’t dated and I can’t find a biography of the author so I’m guessing, based in the binding and picture plates, when I say this was published pre-WW1.

The book is set in Australia, which is very different from most of the Sunday School prize books, and centres on orphan Winnie Fordyce.

Also different from most stories about orphans is that this one is brought up in a loving household by guardians who care. There is no rebellion or need to defend herself with this orphan, who seems to a nice but dull child!

The rebellion and redemption in this story comes from her friend, Norman. Norman is the son of the local Minister. He rebels against his father’s teaching and gets into bad ways. As a young adult he falls in love with Winnie and she with him although she rejects his proposal saying she cannot marry him if he doesn’t live a good life.

Eventually, of course, Norman rediscovers God’s love, becomes a Minister and they all live happily ever after.

This book was an easy hour’s read on a slightly boring Sunday afternoon, which I guess is what it was originally designed for…only for someone much younger than me.

I liked the message that sometimes you love someone but don’t love how they are living their life. Also, that much as you love someone sometimes they have to reform their own life: you can’t fix someone but you can support them to fix themselves. In that respect it is quite a modern message. It’s the prose and the premise that everyone should believe in God that makes it old-fashioned.

It would be interesting to turn the plot into a 21st century tale…

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