Book Review: Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior

Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, AbolitionistFierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I’ve long wanted to read this – I’ve had it for Kindle for a number of years, but just never could get moving on it. This winter I went ahead and bought all of Prior’s books when On Reading Well came out.

I’m glad I started here.

I very much enjoyed reading about More, her life and her work. She was a fascinating character. Her work with Wilberforce and on her own was tireless on behalf of the neglected and poor. Her Christian witness and insistence upon it was lifechanging for many. Her attacks at the culture by using their means in a Christian way were ingenious. By turning cultural norms on their heads for Christ, she was able to reach many with the gospel of truth. More’s life was beset with ups and downs and she was certainly imperfect, but she worked for the Kingdom insisting upon excellence and I suppose that is the lesson to take away. Her leaflets were Christian and were of better quality than the mainstream ones. Her poetry, plays, prose – fiction and non – were all of the highest caliber. If we want to reach a world through culture, the quality has to be there above all.

My main dissatisfactions with this book were more technical in nature. Overall, it was well written and kept my attention, but there were some notable occasions when I had to re-read paragraphs a couple of times because I lost the antecedents to the pronoun. This was one of my “Bedtime Biography” reads, so I was tired, true. I thought there were places where the writing could have been tightened up a little.

The other has to do with the way biographies are written these days – the thematic approach. Instead of mixing up all of the themes in chronological fashion, they pull different areas of interest or ideas into different chapters. I understand why people do it, but as a reader, I find it confusing to remember the threads and pull them back together in a whole picture of the person. This is a matter of taste and preference, but an important one.

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