With all of the events going on around the world, it can be hard to concentrate. As an antidote, in our Facebook group we’ve been discussing some ‘comfort reading’ in Elizabeth Goudge’s The Scent of Water. Having lived through the Second World War, her resilience shows through. As one of our members remarked, her books are wordy and old-fashioned but lovely. Do join in.  

Here are two other novels from different genres to explore. The Healing Knife charts the spiritual and emotional awakening of a cardiac surgeon. Rachel is an excellent surgeon, but saving lives and moving up in her career takes up all of her focus. She has no room for relationships or rest. When a disgruntled patient’s mother turns obsessive, Rachel’s life changes in ways she’d never before imagined.  

I enjoyed this novel, which has suspense, romance and a gentle journey of a woman coming to faith in God. I found the writing compelling and the characters well drawn. Central questions of the novel form around identity and community – who are we when we lose something central to what we thought made up our identity? What is the role of humility in receiving help? How do people help – or hinder – us in a healing journey, whether physical or spiritual? What makes for a good life?  

I recommend this novel with only a few niggles. The most awkward scene relates to premarital sex and the hoops one of the characters jumps through to justify their actions and make it OK according to the faith of the other character. (I’m being a bit cagey there as I’m trying not to give too much away!) Overall, though, an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.  

A Map of the Sky gives the journey of awakening for Kit, an eleven-year-old boy who is wrenched from his London home to move with his mum and sister to a coastal village in the North. They settle temporarily into a guesthouse with an eclectic mix of characters. As a boy with an active imagination – and seemingly not much time spent on a device – he immerses himself into tales of adventures with heroes he would like to emulate. Then he tries to create his own adventures, casting himself as the hero, with mixed results.  

What I like about this story in particular is chronic illness being portrayed by a key character. The mix of personalities in the guesthouse made for interesting clashes and interchanges, and I appreciated the coming-of-age nature of the story (even though Kit annoyed me at times). I wished, however, that the book had more of a faith element, for there was only one or two mentions of God in it. A novel suitable for adults and teenagers.  

What are you reading?