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Pansy’s Most Frequent Character

13 Mar

As a fan of Pansy’s books you may have noticed that Isabella’s characters frequently show up in different stories.

Eagle-eyed readers with good memories often spot them. For example, Brewster is a surname that appears in several of her books:

Her Mother’s Bible
Only Ten Cents
Aunt Hannah and Martha and John
Living a Story
Circulating Decimals

That’s a lot of Brewsters!

“Girl with Dog” by John White Alexander.

But the character that appeared most often in Isabella’s books wasn’t a Brewster at all; in fact, it wasn’t even a person!

The character Isabella wrote about most often was Bose the dog.

Sidney Martin’s Christmas (1879)

Bose first came to life in this short story when he interrupted a group of children singing Christmas carols in their neighborhood:

Just at that very point they stopped every voice, and little Gretchen, the youngest of the group, gave a little squeal that did not belong to the carol. It was plain that something had frightened them. Sidney crossed over to them. Just inside of the gate had appeared old Bose, the great house dog, and he was not a lover of their music, to judge by the low growls with which he greeted it.

“Don’t be afraid,” said Sidney, coming promptly into view. “I know old Bose and he knows me. He is an ill-mannered scamp, but he won’t hurt you so long as I am around. You sing away and I will stand guard.”

“Newfoundland” by Carl Reichert.

Christie’s Christmas (1884)

In this novel, Christie meets Bose when she’s trying to do a good deed, and comes upon an enormous dog that literally knocks her off her feet:

Bow, wow, wow! Here was a fellow who disputed the way with her, and came suddenly towards her, as if the least that he should think of doing was to swallow her at once.

Now it happened that Christie, unusually brave about most things, was dreadfully afraid of a dog.

She gave a pitiful little shriek, and the next thing she knew, she was picking herself out of the meanest looking mud hole she had seen in her trip. The dog had retired to a safe distance, and with his head hung down, and his silly little tail between his legs, was receiving a lecture from a woman with a frowzy head, and sleeves rolled up at the elbow, who appeared in the door of the little house.

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself!” she said, shaking her head. “A decent dog you are to be cutting up such tricks! Come along, child; what do you want? There’s no kind of need of your being afraid of that there dog. There ain’t a bigger coward in all Kansas than he is.”

Spun from Fact (1886)

In 1886 Bose made a brief appearance in Spun from Fact as a faithful dog mourning the loss of his young master, Frank:

I slipped out in the yard, and began to coax the old dog into a frolic. He got into a tremendous one at last, and bounded about me in such a ridiculous way that I laughed loud and long, and rolled on the grass in my glee. Just then I looked up on the piazza, and there stood my aunt! I bounded to my feet all in a glow of shame.

But she was smiling as pleasantly as I had ever seen her, although at that minute there were tears in her eyes, and she said, ‘Poor Bose will be grateful to you all day. He misses Frank very much. He used to frolic with him, you know. It is pleasant to hear a merry young voice again in the yard.’

A young girl and her Bernardiner.

Grandma’s Miracles; Stories Told at Six o’Clock in the Evening (1887)

In this book, Grandma Burton tells the story of Bose, a great, menacing beast who crossed her path when she was a child. She described how:

. . . a great white dog, that looked as ugly as his mistress, glared on me and growled. I was trembling so that I could hardly stand,

Just as I turned the corner by Mr. Willard’s place I heard a low growl, and there stood Bose eyeing me in a way to make my heart beat fast. I was dreadfully afraid of Bose, and with good reason: he had the name of being a very fierce dog; they kept him chained all day. I saw the chain around his neck then, but still I was afraid.

A 1913 calendar trade card, featuring two girls and a Newfoundland.

That terrifying dog with the chain around  his neck would later play a very important role in young Grandma Burton’s life.

Bose also made appearances in several short stories in The Pansy magazine.

Curiously, Isabella didn’t describe Bose in detail. In fact, Grandma’s Miracles is the only book that tells us his color (white).

A trade card from about 1900. Any guesses what this dog’s breed is supposed to be?

But we know Bose was a large dog, perhaps a shepherd, a collie, or even a mastiff, any of which are breeds known to be especially protective of children.

A Mastiff.

We also know that Bose often appeared menacing at first, only to show that underneath his barks and growls, he was a loyal friend with a heart of gold.

And that was true of many of Isabella’s human characters, too.

Have you ever known a great big dog that frightened little girls, as Bose did? Please tell us about it!


You can read more about the Isabella Alden books mentioned in this post by clicking on the book covers below:

    Image of the cover for Sidney Martin's Christmas

   

 

New Free Read: Living a Story

6 Mar

This month’s free read is a short story that first appeared in The Pansy magazine in 1893.

The story is about three school friends who pass a snowy afternoon by making up stories for each other. For two of the girls, the stories are simply fun diversions; but for Sarah Brewster, one of their stories strikes a little too close to home.

You can read “Living a Story” on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device. Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.

To begin reading, just click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.

New Free Read: On Which Side Were They?

6 Feb

Not all of Isabella Alden’s stories had happy endings. This month’s free read is a short story Isabella wrote in 1893 when she was living in Washington, D.C. and very active in the Christian Endeavor Society. She deliberately left the ending of the story unresolved. Perhaps she was waiting to see how the real-life model for her story played out—or perhaps she wanted her readers to concentrate on the meat of her story, rather than on a happy ending. Either way, “On Which Side Were They?” is a thought-provoking story that’s as relevant today as it was the day it was first published.

You can read “On Which Side Were They?” on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device.

Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.

To begin reading, just click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.    

The Search by Grace Livingston Hill

16 Jan

Isabella’s niece Grace Livingston Hill kicked off 1919 on a high note.

That was the year Grace’s novel The Search was published as a serial in a popular Christian magazine. The first chapter appeared in the January 1, 1919 issue.

Here’s the announcement the magazine ran the month before to notify readers about the upcoming serial (click on the image to see a larger version).

Although it’s fun to discover Grace’s stories in early newspapers and magazines, it’s even better when they’re accompanied by illustrations by the leading artists of the day.

John Cameron’s eyes met those of Ruth Macdonald. (From chapter 1 of The Search by Grace Livingston Hill.)

Artist William Charles McNulty (whose pieces are included in collections at The Metropolitan Museum of Art) illustrated three scenes from The Search for the magazine.

“I’d like to have you for one of my friends.” (From Chapter 3 of The Search by Grace Livingston Hill)

McNulty’s illustrations add a rich sense of time and place to the story, from the old-fashioned automobile Ruth drove, to the characters’ clothing, and the quiet place John found (in chapter 4) to read Ruth’s letter.

He tore the letter open and a faint whiff of violets floated out to him. (From chapter 4 of The Search by Grace Livingston Hill)

Later that same year, The Search was published in book form by Lippincott, and was well received by Grace’s fans; but the magazine version remains special, because of its illustrations.

If you haven’t read The Search, you’re in luck! You can read the e-book for free on your tablet, phone, Kindle or computer!

Amazon.com offers the e-book book at no charge. Just click on the banner below to begin reading:

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A New Free Read: How it Happened

9 Jan

Originally published in 1875, this month’s Free Read is a charming story about children’s faith in Jesus and the power of prayer.

When Mr. Porter hires Stephen Turner to work as a delivery boy in his store, he doesn’t have high hopes for the boy’s success. All he can see are Stephen’s ragged clothes and sad expression.

But it isn’t long before Mr. Porter and his wife learn their first impressions were mistaken. And when they see their darling baby daughter fall immediately in love with Stephen, they welcome him into their home.

But not all good fortune lasts forever; and when tragedy threatens the Porters, it’s up to Stephen to help them in any way they can.

You can read How it Happened on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device.

Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.

To begin reading, just click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.

Helen Lester

3 Jan

Isabella Alden’s first novel, Helen Lester, was published in 1865 when she was 24 years old.

The original book included a few illustrations. This one depicts the moment in the story when Helen’s older brother leads her to the Christ.

Helen Lester was a great success and launched Isabella’s writing career, but it almost wasn’t published!

You can read more about how Helen Lester came to be—-and read the book for free! Just click here.

New Free Read: Miss Whitaker’s Blankets

12 Dec

Isabella’s sister, Marcia Livingston penned this month’s delightful Free Read.

In the “Season of Giving” Miss Rachel Whitaker is no stranger to charitable causes. She’s a good Christian woman who faithfully donates to her church and mission boards, like her parents did before her. But when she is confronted by someone in need on her own doorstep, will she answer the call?

You can read “Miss Whitaker’s Blankets” on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device.

Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.

To begin reading, just click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.

Happy Thanksgiving and a New Free Read!

21 Nov

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and in honor of the day, we’re sharing one of Isabella’s short stories from 1891.

About the Story:

Little Nannie Walters simply wishes to dress her favorite doll in lace and linen; but she quickly learns there are consequences for little girls who take things that belong to others—a lesson that could ruin her Thanksgiving day plans.

Read it for free!

You can read “Nannie’s Thanksgiving” on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device. Just click here to download your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.

Or you can click here to read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.

 

A New Free Read: Mary Burton

24 Oct

This month’s free read is short, but very sweet.

Written in the first person narrative (Could this be a true story from Isabella’s life?), the story is about Miss Smith, a new Sunday-school teacher who finds herself drawn to one of her pupils. Little Mary Burton is fair-haired and blue-eyed, but it is her expression of Godly contentment that first catches Miss Smith’s eye.

Soon Mary Burton experiences troubles in her life. Will Miss Smith be able to help her to regain her contented spirit?

You can read the story here on the blog.

Or click on the book cover to download a version to read on your phone or tablet, or to print and share with friends.

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MARY BURTON

It is many years ago that I went one morning, at the request of the clergyman of my parish, to undertake the teaching of a class of Sunday scholars. As I entered the room, in which my duties were in future to be performed every Sunday morning, the nervous feeling which had been gathering strength as I walked along, almost overcame me, and I think I should have turned and run home again, had not the kind clergyman caught sight of my anxious face, and come forward to encourage me.

“That is right, Miss Smith,” he said, as he shook hands with me. “I am glad you have consented to comply with my wishes, and to take a class here.”

“If I could only teach them right,” I answered timidly; “but I feel as if I should be better employed in learning than in teaching.”

“You have been learning for many months past,” he answered kindly, “learning from higher than mere human teaching, learning in the school of sorrow and of suffering. Let it be seen that the lesson has not been sent in vain. Strive to lead others to that gracious Saviour, whom you have yourself learned to love, and who said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto Me.’”

He led me to a class of little girls seated at the further end of the room, and left me with them. I glanced at the faces turned inquisitively towards the “new teacher.” I will relate the subsequent history of one of these children, whose appearance particularly impressed me.

Mary Burton was a fair-haired, blue-eyed girl, with an expression of contentment on her face, which made it pleasant to look at her. She was eleven years old, she told me, and lived with her mother, who was a widow. I made a point of becoming acquainted with my children in their own homes; and as Mary was never in during the week, being employed as a message-girl at a neighboring green-grocer’s, I went one Sunday, after afternoon service, to see her. I found the family seated at tea. Everything was neat and clean; and the mother, in her widow’s dress and cap, looked the picture of decent and respectable poverty. She told me she had been seven years a widow, and that her youngest child (she had three) had been born two months after his father’s death.

“I have had a hard struggle to keep things straight, ma’am,” she said; “but now that Mary is growing up to be a help and comfort to me, I feel as if a great burden was taken off me; for I know that she will do what she can to work for her mother, and that, as long as she lives, her brothers will not want for a good example and good advice.” Mary’s face was flushed with pleasure at her mother’s praise, and at the few words of encouragement which I gave her.

As I rose to take my leave, I said, “I will leave you a maxim to think about, Mary. It is this: ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’ God has blessed you with a naturally contented disposition, but something more is needed. May you, like Mary of old, be enabled to choose that good part, which shall never be taken from you.”

When Mary was fourteen years old her mother was taken very ill. It was a painful and lingering disease, borne with such meek patience as taught a sweet lesson of faith and trust to all who were privileged to see her in her affliction. Mary came home to look after the invalid and her two little brothers, and it was then that her mother found the blessing of having “trained up her child in the way it should go.” Early accustomed to orderly habits and to hard work, it was wonderful how that young girl contrived to keep everything about the poor invalid clean and comfortable, to have the room always tidy, and her brothers’ clothes well washed and mended.

They had many difficulties and hardships. The boys could only earn five dollars a week between them, and this did not allow food sufficient for three growing and hard-worked children, and the round faces became blue and pinched; still there was no murmuring, or parade of want. Go when I would, Mary was busy with her work, and, amid all their poverty, kept up an appearance of comfort, by her clean and tidy ways.

One day I remember I found her with a face unusually pale, and the evident traces of tears in her eyes.

“What is the matter, Mary?” I said.

She made a sign towards her mother’s bed, as if to beg me not to draw attention to her distress, and answered, as she dusted a chair and placed it near the bed for me:

“Nothing, ma’am; I think mother’s keeping pretty well just now.”

Her mother had turned anxiously around as I asked the question; but Mary had so naturally contrived her answer, placing herself at the same time in a position which should conceal her face without an apparent intention to do so, that Mrs. Burton was satisfied. It was my practice, when I visited the widow, to read a chapter aloud, which we talked over afterwards. Her religion was not a mere talk; it was a real possession. She knew “in whom she could trust;” and, in her hour of trial, of bodily suffering, and often of actual want, she would carry her trials and troubles to her Saviour, and, laying the burden at His feet rest contented in the assurance, “The Lord will provide.” She was generally a woman of few words; but that day she spoke more than was her wont, and, among other things, reminded me of the maxim which I had left with Mary on my first visit to them.

“It has often been a comfort to me since,” she said, “and I am sure I find the truth of it more and more every day. To know that our daily bread comes direct from our Father’s hands, seems to make it taste the sweeter; and when things have gone harder than usual, and I could see no way how we could get help, the help has come often in a way that I least expected, till I have been made to feel that to be content with what the Lord is pleased to give us, and to see and know that all comes from His loving hands, is indeed the greatest gain.”

I observed that as she spoke, Mary rather paused in her work, and at last she left off altogether, and stood looking out of the window, while her hands hung listlessly at her side.

It may be easily supposed that I did not usually go to the house empty-handed. I have little sympathy with the piety which leads some really good people to visit the houses of the poor, to read to them, and to give them tracts, and to over-look their bodily wants and suffering altogether. Such, at all events, was not the practice of “Him who has left us an example that we should follow his footsteps.”

It had not pleased God to endow me largely with worldly goods, but it does not require large means to enable one to be kind and helpful to the poor. If we bring a willing heart to the work, we shall soon find many ways at helping, at no greater cost than some slight personal inconvenience or self-denial. That day I had in my purse a five-dollar piece which a wealthy friend, to whom I had spoken of the widow’s patient suffering, had given me for her use. As I saw that something had gone wrong with Mary, and that she was anxious to conceal her distress from her mother, I determined on speaking to her when she accompanied me to the outer door, which she usually did, and that I would give her the money then.

Mary looked nervous when I rose to go away, and as if she would be glad of an excuse for not accompanying me. She saw however, that I expected her, and followed with a slow, unwilling step. When we were quite out of her mother’s hearing, I stopped.

“There is something vexing you, Mary,” I said, “and I suspect you do not want to tell me what it is. If it would be any comfort to speak to a true friend about your troubles, I would willingly hear what is the matter; but if you would rather not tell me, I shall not feel hurt.”

I waited a moment, and as she remained silent, I added:

“I see you would rather not; but remember, dear Mary, that there is One whose ear is ever open to our cry, who is ever ready to pity and to help us. Tell your trouble to Him, ask His guidance if you are in difficulty, cast your care upon Him if you are in trouble, and be assured that none who go in simple trust to Him, shall be sent empty away.”

She answered, “Oh, Miss Smith, I have prayed, indeed I have, but . . .”

“But it seems to you as if the Lord had not heard your prayer,” I said, finishing her sentence for her. “He does not always answer us in the way that we expect; we are poor blind creatures, and do not know what to ask for as we ought; but be assured that the prayer of faith will be answered; if not in the way we wish, at any rate in the way that will be best for us. I will not detain you any longer from your mother,” I added. “She may wonder what is keeping you. Here is a small sum which a friend gave me for you. I have seen that you are to be trusted with money, and that you are thoughtful and prudent in spending the little you have; so I feel sure you will lay this out to the best advantage.”

She looked at me with an eagerness in her large blue eyes that quite startled me; clasped her hands together, and for some minutes remained silent; then she burst into a fit of passionate, almost hysterical weeping, which shook her the more, that she endeavored to suppress all sound. When she was a little composed, she explained the cause of her agitation. Her elder brother, whose earnings brought three dollars a week to the family, had completely worn out his shoes and his clothes, and his master had more than once threatened to dismiss him unless he were better clad. Poor Mary had almost denied herself necessary food, in the endeavor to lay by a sufficient sum to buy him a pair of shoes; but meanwhile, in spite of constant mending, his clothes had become so worn that they would scarcely hold together, and on Monday, his master had warned him that this must be his last week, unless he came better clothed. Friday had come, and Mary was as far as ever from having obtained money for so extensive a purchase, and saw no means of getting it, and hence arose her anxious, careworn looks.

“I could not tell mother,” she said, “for the doctor says she must not be fretted; it might cost her her life.”

“And why could you not tell me?” I answered.

“Oh, ma’am! I thought shame, when you have done so much for us already; ’twould have been begging like.”

She was crying still, for the poor child was weak for want of sufficient food; so I said, soothingly:

“You went to the right quarter, Mary, and He, whose kind heart, when he was on earth, never allowed Him to despise the cry of the weakest or poorest, has proved that He is ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ As surely does this help come from Him, though through my hand, as when in olden times He commissioned the ravens to feed the prophet, or multiplied the five loaves and two small fishes into food for five thousand fainting followers.”

“Yes, ma’am, I feel it now. Mother often told me to trust in Him; but somehow I thought I was such a weak, wicked creature, He could never listen to me; but now I feel as if I could never doubt Him again, for it seems as if He had sent you on purpose to help us in our great need.”

And, indeed, from that time she seemed able to cast her whole care upon her Saviour God. She had been contented before; her training and natural temperament had made her so; but now a higher element was added—A simple trust in her heavenly Father’s love and care, an earnest faith in the redemption purchased by the blood of His dear Son, with the abiding presence of that Comforter, whose offices of love were the Saviour’s dying bequest to His people, filled her heart, and constituted that godliness which, with contentment, she truly found to be great gain.

Some months later Mrs. Burton died.

Mary had dearly loved her mother, and had looked up to her in everything for advice. It was a bitter loss, but she bore it with sweet, unmurmuring patience.

“I know she is happy now,” she said, as she uncovered the pale face, and her hot tears dropped fast upon it. “I must try to remember all she used to tell me, but, oh! I can never be like her, so good, so patient.”

We can say little in the face of death; those white, silent lips are far more eloquent than ours; they speak to the bereaved in a language which the mere spectator neither hears nor understands, so I thought it kinder to leave Mary to her Saviour and her great sorrow.

When I returned the following day she was herself again, quite composed and calm. It had been her mother’s earnest wish that Mary should, if possible, keep house for her brothers.

It was not easy, but she effected it; she was clever, and I was fortunate in interesting an excellent woman in the neighborhood in her case. This woman was a clear-starcher; she taught Mary her business without any charge and gave her constant employment. Her brothers’ earnings, too, increased as they grew older; so that, after a time, they lived in comparative comfort.

When Mary was twenty years of age, she married a farmer, who lived about five miles out of town. Her elder brother had obtained an excellent situation through his steadiness and good character. This enabled him to go into comfortable and respectable lodgings, and his younger brother went to live with him. They were both excellent, steady lads, and in a fair way to get on in the world.

It was fully four years after Mary’s marriage that I one day resolved to make her a visit, which she had earnestly pressed upon me before she left the home where I had first known her. I availed myself of a coach, which took me to within two miles of the village where Mary lived, and walked the rest of the way.

My path lay through corn-fields and green lanes, and I thoroughly enjoyed the contrast afforded by the pleasant sights and sounds of the country with the bustle and turmoil of dirty and crowded streets. A neat cottage, with a pretty garden in front of it, was pointed out to me as Mary’s home. I was prepared for order and cleanliness, but scarcely for the almost elegant comfort that pervaded the room. The furniture was of the plainest description, but there was an exquisite neatness, and even taste, in its arrangement, which made one feel that the mistress of such a house was no ordinary person.

Mary herself was there, with a baby on her knee, and a pretty little creature, two years old, playing near her on the floor. She greeted me with a happy smile.

“Oh, ma’am!” she said. “This is kind. I have longed so to show you my new home, and my little ones!”

“And I often wished to come, “I answered; “but, as you know, I have a great deal at home to occupy my time, and when I have planned to come, something has occurred to prevent me.”

It was a pleasant visit. We spoke of her mother and of past times, of her present circumstances and future prospects.

“Oh, ma’am,” she said, and grateful tears filled her eyes, “I feel as if I never can be thankful to my Father in heaven for all His goodness. Of course, we have had our troubles at times, and, worst of all, was when my little baby died, our first, when it was six months old; but, through all, we seem to have had so much comfort and peace, as if the Lord, Himself, was comforting and strengthening us. So that I am sure we have reason to say, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.’”

“Ah, Mary,” I answered, as I rose to go, “you know now, by happy experience, that ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’“

As I walked home that beautiful summer evening, watching the golden sunset, and the purple hue of declining day stealing over hill and valley, and thought of Mary with her sweet face and quiet happiness and peace, these words came to my mind,

“God hath appointed one remedy for all the evils in this world, and that is a contented spirit.”

The Grace Livingston Hill Memorial School

10 Oct

Isabella Alden was particularly close to her niece, Grace Livingston Hill. Grace was a writer, too, and her books were incredibly popular and are still widely read today.

Grace Livingston Hill-Lutz, about 1912

But Grace wasn’t merely a best-selling authoress; Grace was also a teacher. She was dedicated to teaching Sunday-school classes at her church, and when her daughters Margaret and Ruth were old enough to attend school, Grace decided to teach them at home, just as her parents had taught her.

Grace’s desire to teach wasn’t limited to her family. For years Grace ran a Bible class for children at a nearby Presbyterian church. She was the guiding spirit in establishing a mission Sunday School for immigrant families, and she personally paid to send innumerable young people to Pinebrook School, a well-known Christian Bible conference in the Poconos.

Notice of class registration for Grace Livingston Hill Memorial School; from the Tampa Bay Times, May 20, 1954.

Education was something Grace was passionate about, and when she passed away in 1947 her daughter Ruth Hill Munce took steps to honor Grace’s teaching ministry.  Ruth purchased a 30-acre site in St. Petersburg, Florida and built a school, which she named after their mother.

An ad for Sunday services at Grace Livingston Memorial School chapel. From the Tampa Bay Times, October 22, 1955.

Grace Livingston Hill Memorial School had just four classrooms and 75 students when it officially opened in 1953, but the Christian day school grew with each passing year. Ruth served as the school principal for 15 years. Under her direction, she ensured that Christian education was at the core of every class, saying, “God would be the sum of the equation, the Bible a textbook.”

Grace Livingston Hill Memorial School graduates, class of 1961, from the Tampa Bay Times, June 7, 1961.

In 1962 the school changed its name to Keswick Christian School, and it’s still operating today under that name. But it had its roots as a tribute to Grace Livingston Hill, who loved God and used her talents for writing and teaching in order to serve Him.

You can read some of Grace’s short stories for free on this site. Just click on one of the images below to begin reading.

        

Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction and sweet, clean fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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