Is Gertrude a beauty? By no means. Hers is a face and form about which there would be a thousand different opinions, and few would pronounce her beautiful. But there are faces whose ever-varying expression one loves to watch, tell-tale faces, that speak truth and proclaim the sentiment within; faces sanctified by the Divine presence, when the heart turns from a world and itself, and looks upward n the spirit of devotion. Such a face was Gertrude’s.
-The Lamplight by Maria S. Cummins
About the book…
She wasn’t beautiful, wanted, or helpful, but in an act of Christ-like love, the poor lamplighter carried the little girl to his quaint home, and spent his remaining years giving her all he had. But after her adoption, despite Uncle True’s loving care and devotion, Gertrude Flint’s life seems to grow more and more sorrowful with each passing day. Is the faith he taught her about enough to sustain her? Will the end of this journey bring any joy?
About the author…
Maria Susanna Cummins was born on April 19, 1827 in Salem, Massachusetts. She was educated at a formal girl’s school in Lenox, a few miles from her birthplace. After the completion of her education, Maria moved to Dorchester, where the spark of love for writing was fanned into a flame that produced her finest work, The Lamplighter, which sold 40,000 copies in the first few weeks following it’s publication in 1854. Maria passed away in Dorchester on October 1, 1866, at just thirty-nine years old.
Some personal thoughts…
It has been so long, since a book drew me in and changed me as The Lamplighter did. My Momma gave it to me last Christmas, and the reason she did so was because this beautiful hardback edition was released in 1999, the year I was born. I read the first chapter in January, and for one silly reason or another, I tucked it away to finish some other time. One of the most ridiculous things I’ve done when it comes to books.
Last week, I pulled it out again, and read the entire book in just two days. It was one of those that I just could not put down. Ms. Cummins excelled in her writing, like few I have read before. The characters were so real, the struggles were ones I face daily. The internal battle that Gertrude faces throughout the book was so relatable, and I couldn’t help but be encouraged and convicted by this beautiful story.
The thing about this book that stood out to me the most was the realization that though Gertrude’s circumstances were ones that anyone in their right minds would find worthy of dissatisfaction or complaint, her contentment seemed to grow as her focus on self diminished. Her joy was full, when it wasn’t her focus. She was more herself, when focused on someone else. She was satisfied in service, rather than by service. She was humble, and gracious. Not to earn something from God, but rather because she had already received something from Him: salvation, love, and a place of true belonging.
Her joy was full, when it wasn’t her focus. She was more herself, when focused on someone else. She was satisfied in service, rather than by service.
Gertrude never has a real home or family, yet she finds her place of belonging, her shelter, in Christ Jesus. What an example to those of us who find ourselves complaining about trivial things we find in our home or families.
This book is excellent, to say the least. But the thing I find myself wanting to talk about the most, is the ending. It is one of the most beautiful endings I have ever read, and one I did not see coming. I’m not going to say anymore, but please, read it.
Things worth mentioning…
This book has quite a bit of death and loss. Gertrude loses people she held very close. It’s hard to read, but without these elements of the story, her character growth and example of hope and love would not shine as brightly.
Here at The Corner Shelf you’ll find The Lamplighter on The (tipp, tippy, tippy) Top Shelf.