Originally titled Paul Faber, Surgeon, and published in 1879, The Lady's Confession is the second book in the heart-searching trilogy about Thomas Wingfold, the Curate of Glaston (see post for Wednesday, September 17, 2008). It was edited by Michael Phillips and republished by Bethany House Publishers in 1986.
The Lady's Confession follows The Curate's Awakening with a theme of "awakening", salvation. We again meet Thomas and Helen Wingfold and the warm-hearted midgets, Joseph and Rachel Polworth, continuing to serve God in the places He has put them and to reach out to poor and needy hearts that are searching for a God to trust in. People throughout Glaston are being touched by the honest and humble ministry of Thomas Wingfold, curate. Out of a colorful array of characters step the hero and heroine that make the story: Paul Faber and Juliet Meredith.
Paul Faber, briefly introduced in The Curate's Awakening, is the likable town doctor of Glaston. He considers himself an athiest and prides himself on his "goodness" and "honor". He scoffs at the idea of an eternal God and holds to the idea that this life is all there is, and beyond is darkness. He goes about helping people in a kind and compassionate way, and feels secure in his own professed goodness--hardly realizing that it is just a cover for the dirt and darkness deep inside.
Then he meets the Lady Juliet Meredith, recently moved to the area of Glaston. She is rapturously beautiful, and yet no one knows anything about her. She originally claims belief in a God, yet her vague ideas cannot stand before Faber's seemingly reasonable ideas, and she soon comes to the point of doubting whether there really is a God at all. After Faber saves her life in a dramatic moment, he falls deeply in love with her. For a time she shuns him, but under his drawing influence and the continual breakdown of her theology, she comes to return his love, and they look forward to a life wrapped up in each other. But hidden deep in the recesses of Juliet's past is a secret that threatens to destroy this hope of happiness and ruin their future together.
In a cleverly interwoven plot, we again see the work of the Lord upon doubting or self-sufficient lives, drawing them to Himself. There is no man who is sinless, and God often has to draw away our guise of "goodness" through events in our lives to reveal to us our dire need for Him and our destitution in ourselves. We see in Drake, Bevis, Dorothy, Faber, and Juliet, people not entirely unlike ourselves and are forced to consider with them what we really believe and where we really stand before God. We see, to use the words of the editor, Michael Phillips, that "in the end every person must make his own choice. Each man and woman stand before God in the silence and emptiness of their own heart and must choose whether they will say yes or no to Him."
I have to confess that I found this somewhat different reading than The Curate's Awakening. At first the plot seemed almost disjointed, but it comes together as it goes along. One has to take time to stop and think about what the author is saying throughout, and I suppose I will have to read it several times over again to get the full truth that is hidden in its pages. If you are desiring to grow in your walk with Christ and to learn to see Him as He really is, I would highly recommend The Lady's Confession. Curl up in a corner on a rainy day, turn on your brain, and be ready to enjoy and glean from another one of George MacDonald's masterful novels...