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Old Wives’ Tales is more than just an historical account of the lives of seven eighteenth century wives. With vivid and colourful detail, Clare Heath–Whyte records the stories of these women who would mostly be unheard of if it wasn’t for their famous husbands, but whose lives have much to teach women today about living for and serving Jesus wholeheartedly. They are not all great examples to follow; Clare is honest about the weaknesses and failings of these women. But there are lessons to learn from each and the readers are challenged to consider whether similar attitudes or habits are hindering godliness and spiritual growth in their own lives. The book includes a couple of stories of “extraordinary” women, whose opportunities and gifts were wonderfully used by God in unique ways. But most are ordinary, facing the same temptations and frustrations of women today, but seeking to honour God in their lives. As a minister’s wife, I couldn’t help but be inspired by Elizabeth Whitefield’s sacrificial spirit and godly perspective on family life. I was equally repelled by the bitterness of Molly Wesley and challenged by Clare’s prompts to assess my attitudes in comparison. The faith of Sarah Edwards, the generosity and servant–heartedness of Selina, Countess of Huntington and the humility of Mary Newton will encourage any woman (or man!) wanting to honour the Lord in the situations he has placed them in. Despite the many obvious cultural differences, the challenge of living a godly life in an ungodly society was as real in the eighteenth century as it is today, so this book is hugely relevant and helpful. The questions at the end of each chapter are thought–provoking and Biblically challenging. I thoroughly recommend it!
This book is so refreshing! Clare introduced me to real women. The wife who used all her wealth to promote the Gospel inspired me. The wife who undermined her husband’s joy and work warned me. Before I read this book I worried that I would be condemned by the perfect lives of these wives. Instead, I found that they needed God’s grace and forgiveness every day … like me!
Reading Christian biographies can sometimes leave us feeling inadequate in comparison, but this book in contrast presents seven very real women complete with weaknesses, failures, and imperfections. Although they lived at a very different time and in a very different culture each encounter challenges us to consider our attitudes to our own circumstances today. This is a great introduction not only to these women who served God in the past but also to an important period in church history. It will be a wonderful resource for women’s groups as it comes complete with bible studies at the end of each chapter.