“It’s amazing how the things around us can either make us feel at peace inside or can steal our peace. Storms without can cause storms within.” (Chapter 7 of The Healing)
I had to read that line a few times; it was so beautiful and so true. The Healing is a well-written book, and within the first few lines, I was desperate to find out what happened to Philip de Braose. Will he live? Will he change? (I guessed he would live, otherwise it would make for flash fiction, rather than a novel.)
The book is set in 1231, and starts in France, but involves the main characters travelling to Wales. The monastery is well described, and I could just picture Philip sitting outside, warm sun on his face, smelling the herb garden. His despair and hopelessness are written down in an empathetic way, making you feel his pain. You wonder how Philip will ever be able to escape this hurt. You get to know Philip well, and although he’s a bit rough around the edges, especially at first, he’s an interesting character.
Then there is Brother Hywel, the faithful monk, who teaches Philip so much. He is larger than life, strong and kind. Hywel has learned his lessons in life (Another book? Maybe? Hopefully!), and he uses his life experience to guide Philip. I enjoyed the description of Hywel and the horses that he works with; it brings out his character in a subtle way. Hywel tells wonderful stories, and I especially enjoyed his retelling of The Prodigal Son. Philip groans when Hywel starts on one of his stories, but he secretly loves them too.
The book ambles along, and we grow along with Philip, witnesses of the power of God in him, and my spirit started to relax with Philip, entering into a gentle rhythm. Until, well, until things were thrown upside down! It jarred me in the same way as it did him, poor guy, and I love how Joy Margetts has pulled us in so deep, that we respond like that!
Needless to say, Philip learns more, and we learn with him. Forgiveness…Such a hard concept, and so well described in this book. His struggle is beautifully depicted, with no easy solutions or glib answers in The Healing! The last few pages I read extra slowly, not wanting the story to end! It felt like saying goodbye to friends, and I wanted to know more about the characters we had met.
Each chapter ends with some Bible verses, something I loved. It was such a grounding way to end each chapter. As I was reading this book, it occurred to me that it would make a fabulous Bible Study book, maybe with some guidelines or questions, although you would maybe just need a few pointers to start a profitable discussion. The book deals with so many of life’s questions, and I always feel a novel is a perfect way to teach people God’s truth. It’s seeing doctrine in action, making it so much less abstract than any self-help book!
The Healing is Joy’s debut novel, and I can’t wait for her next book(s)! It is available directly from Joy’s website, as well as bookshops and Amazon.
I was given a free copy, but I was under no obligation or pressure to give a favourable review. These views are my own, personal views.