There are so many authors, and each of them have their own style of writing. It’s unique. Different. Special to them. Perhaps the average person who only reads one or two of their books doesn’t see the style, but those who have read multiple books by one author begin to notice things.
Let’s take our first Closer Look into the writing and style of an author. No, we are not going to rip apart his works and try to “uncover hidden meanings” nor are we going to analyze any of his stories. We are simply going to look at the way he writes.
Let’s go now to Ralph Connor.
Born in Glengarry County, Ontario, in 1860, Charles William Gorden wrote under the pen name, Ralph Connor. Many of the places he wrote about were places he lived. He was a minister, served as a chaplain during WWI, and wrote many books.
Ralph Connor’s descriptions are vast and intricate. If you like descriptions of lush vegetation, swift flowing rivers with swirling eddies and foaming waters, towering, rugged mountains and glowing sunsets, then you might try one of his books. Sometimes he waxes quite eloquent in his descriptions and it is several paragraphs before you are returned to the story. 🙂 He also enjoyed describing people. Those are a little shorter, though he sometimes gets a little more descriptive than I care for.
Oh, wow. What else can I say? He is a master at the dialects of the Scottish, Irish, French and back woodsman of Canada. It is easy to tell that he lived among those who spoke that way. The conversations are alive and real, not at all stilted or giving the feeling that the characters are standing on a stage reciting their lines. Just be careful because some of his books have language issues. Some more than others.
If you like fast plots with lots of action, you probably won’t like Ralph Connor. Almost every book I have read starts out slowly, building, pulling you in little by little until you suddenly realize that you don’t want to put the book down! There is often tension in the stories, difficult situations, but the endings are good. (Okay, I’ll make an exception. I did NOT like the ending of “Sky Pilot in No Mans Land.” Ask if you want to know why.) His plots are also quite unique in that he will often leave one scene and jump to another time and place in the next chapter making you wonder where on earth he’s going and how he’s going to tie everything together. But don’t worry. He always does and you are left amazed at the intricacies of one story.
There have been several times when Connor is dealing with a challenging issue of sin and evil, but he never does it in a way that leaves you feeling defiled. There have only been two books that I wasn’t sure if I would keep reading because of the issues, but I did and discovered that, though he gave you enough information to know what had happened, it was never in a way to paint a vivid image in your mind and you saw Christ’s redemptive forgiveness in the rest of the story. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend his books (unless it was the reprinted, abridged versions) to younger readers.
Most of his books have a bit of romance in them. Though that has never seemed to be the main focus of his stories. There are some kisses when the young people finally realize they can get married, but there is no talking about how someone’s hair smelled or the heat when he touched her hand. There might be some catching of breath when girl sees guy, but that’s about as far as it goes for the passions are told not described. (Thank you very much, Ralph Connor!)
While most of Ralph Connor’s books are slightly “Presbyterian” in doctrine, most of the time he only deals with the love, mercy, and forgiveness of Christ, and love for others and such things. (Sometimes the characters just don’t understand and I wanted to jump in and help.) However, in one of the books he does leave the reader with the impression that the Genesis account of creation was either just a story, or there were gaps between the days of creation. That was an issue just starting to come into the church at that time, and you get the arguments for and against the idea.
Time Periods and Places and People:
These stories cover a wide range of times from the War of 1812 with the US and Canada fighting on the Great Lakes, to WWI and after. You go from the cities of Toronto, to the Rocky Mountains, from the southern part of Canada to England and the front lines of Europe. You travel with the RCMP, the ministers, the simple country folk, the traders, railroad men, loggers, and upper class city folk.
I’ve mentioned most of these before, but there are language issues in many of the books. Doctrine that isn’t clear or I don’t quite agree with. A few issues of sin and evil. Main characters dying.
And that ends our first Closer Look of an author. Would you like more Closer Looks? Do you think you would enjoy Ralph Connor’s books, or are they not your type? What do you think makes a good book? Conversation? Action? Description? Something else? I’d love to know.