Francis De Sales’ ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’: 1609’s must-read still amazing in 2015

Douglas Ernst Blog

Francis De Sales Intro Devout LifeIt is a rare occurrence to read a book and come to the conclusion that the writer’s initial inspiration was perfectly realized upon its completion. Saint Francis De Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life” may have been published in 1609, but its stunning insight into the human condition makes it a must-read in 2015. In another 400 years, it will still be leaving readers in awe.

While De Sales wrote for a Christian audience, the blueprint for a healthy civil society he presents is one that men and women of all faiths (or no faith) would be hard-pressed to criticize. The virtues he seeks to cultivate in his readers may be motivated by a desire to instill a love of God in  as many hearts as possible, but at the end of the day he is still talking about honesty, humility, patience, charity, fortitude, prudence, etc.

Even more impressive is…

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I have spent the last few days in Bruges and travelled to Ypres myself only two days ago. The experience of visiting these places is one I hope always to remember. Lest we forget.

Book Snob

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A couple of weeks ago, I went on a day trip with some of my students to the battlefields of WWI, in and around Ypres. Having read and taught plenty of WWI fiction in my time, I was intrigued to see the contemporary reality of the world of mud and gore depicted by those who experienced the horrors of trench warfare. Would there still be marks of the conflict on the landscape? Would I be able to recognise any of the places I had read about? Would I feel moved by what I saw, able to imagine the scenes of conflict that had once scarred this now peaceful corner of the Belgian countryside?


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The journey to Ypres was in itself a time of reflection. As we drove to Dover to catch the ferry, our guide explained that we were following in the exact footsteps of the soldiers, who would have come…

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The Hanged Man by P.N Elrod


 When Macmilan-Tor/Forge gave me advanced approval for their publications on NetGalley I was very excited. Perusing their listings a short time later, I discovered The Hanged Man and proceeded to send it to Kindle. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered this was a preview of the first four chapters. At first I thought I had misread  the website and decided I would give feedback and explain I don’t read exerts. Imagine my further surprise when I read on Goodreads that a few other NetGalley readers had experienced the same thing.

We are all fallible. Perhaps the uploader of the file simply forgot, initially, this one piece of information. Unfortunately, this follows another publisher approving a title that was archived three days before the approval email. This is a bug NetGalley needs to find a means of addressing as it isn’t the first time I’ve had the experience.

As far as The Hanged Man is concerned, I will watch for the full copy to be released and I will read it then.

“I barely knew I had skin before I met you.”

My current read is Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests. I don’t want to go into much detail as I will review the finished book in about a week or so. The element I do want to share is the way my imagination is seeing Frances and Lilian. The first image is how I imagine them dressed to go to the birthday of Lilian’s sister.

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The next question is one I like to ask quite frequently. Who would I cast as the various characters?

Emily Beecham as Lilian Barber
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Photo Credit to West Block Studio via Twitter

Jodie Whittaker as Frances Wray

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He might be a bit baby-faced but William Moseley could still pull be Lenoard Barber
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And as Frances’ mother, Jane How.
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I’m only 47% through the book so undoubtedly, there are characters I’m still to meet. It has been quite an interesting time finding the faces that fit my imagination.

To the whiny dude-bros of Twitter

It's the people and places.

There are a few gems of internet wisdom that present themselves on a fairly regular basis – especially if you’re posting anything related to men’s violence against women, street or online harassment, or pretty much anything that negatively impacts female-presenting people.

  1. Don’t feed the trolls
  2. Lewis’ Law – Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.

As a women who regularly shares articles relating to violence against women, harassment and other similar topics on social media platforms, such as Twitter, I am all too familiar with both trolls, and the accuracy of Lewis’ Law.

The trolls I’ve encountered are all of the same, garden-variety misogynist, MRA-types. Their key tactic is to intimidate. They aim to silence women using harassment, threats and bombardment-style attacks. They’ll fill your ‘mentions’ without you even having mentioned them. They sit in wait, pouncing at any mention of The Things They Don’t Like. Like equality. And…

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[Review] Murder in Piccadilly written by Charles Kingston


Title: Murder in Piccadilly
Author: Charles Kingston
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Date of Publication: 15 Jan 2015
Number of Pages: 320

Rating: 2 out of 5 DNF @ 46%

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary: ‘Scores of men and women died daily in London, but on this day of days one of them had died in the very midst of a crowd and the cause of his death was a dagger piercing his heart. Death had become something very real.’ When Bobbie Cheldon falls in love with a pretty young dancer at the Frozen Fang night club in Soho, he has every hope of an idyllic marriage. But Nancy has more worldly ideas about her future: she is attracted not so much to Bobbie as to the fortune he expects to inherit. Bobbie’s miserly uncle Massy stands between him and happiness: he will not relinquish the ten thousand a year on which Nancy’s hopes rest. When Bobbie falls under the sway of the roguish Nosey Ruslin, the stage is set for murder in the heart of Piccadilly – and for Nancy’s dreams to be realised. When Chief Inspector Wake of Scotland Yard enters the scene, he uncovers a tangled web of love affairs, a cynical Soho underworld, and a motive for murder.

Review: Charles Kingston wrote twenty novels between the years of the two World Wars, all set in London and all of which, have been unavailable for decades. Murder in Piccadilly was first published in 1930 and describes what some reviewers call a cynical view of money leading to murder.

The current rating for this book on Goodreads is 2.88 and this was my first warning that there was going to be a problem with Murder in Piccadilly. I have mentioned on a previous review that I don’t read any book with less than a 3 star rating, however, because I was provided with an advanced reader copy I felt duty bound to read it. I think I may have to be stricter in future.

I found Murder in Piccadilly hard work and boring and I decided not to finish reading it. The characters were hard to like or feel any compassion for and the prose was heavy and slow. Some reviews mention that the pace of the story increases once you’re over halfway but this is never enough to save any work.

What I find myself wondering is why the British Library selected this novel to republish. Surely there are better works in the genre they could have chosen.

Terrible Book Covers

Back in January I did a post where I mentioned choosing a book by its cover. Without further ado, here are some terrible book covers for your amusement.


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The blog post where I found Mr Sweet Potato has many others you might find amusing. I particularly like Gumpy, son of Spunk, Gay Whore and Fluff, Muff and Puff: a magic action book.

A rather unfortunate book title and another reason why punctuation is important kids!
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Drummer Dick is accompanied by The big colouring in book of vaginas

and Do it yourself coffins

The last few books come from a buzzfeed post and some of the covers are laugh out loud funny.


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Last but not least, we have My first little boob job, which I really hope is someone creating something to amuse themselves.