Nine-year-old Lisita lives in a French village near Paris on the road from Rouen to Darnetal with her father Charles, a well-to-do businessman, her ten-year-old brother Louis, her fifteen-year-old sister Rosa, her older, invalid sister Catalina, and their housekeeper Teresa Rouland. Lisita's mother died when she was an infant, and her father, though generally a kind man, was so bitter at his wife's death that he forbade anyone in his house from going to church, reading the Bible, or even talking about God. Then they receive a letter saying that their ten-year-old cousin Paula, the daughter of their mother's sister who had also died, lost her father, their Uncle John, as well and would have to come from her home in the village of Villar in the far-off Waldensian valley of northern Italy to live with them.
Paula had been raised to be a very firm believer in God, and her most precious possession is the Bible that her father had given her just before his death. How will Paula react to the religious restrictions of her new home? And how will Lisita's family react to the influence of Paula? The book was originally written in French and then translated into Spanish. It found its way to Chile, South America, where it was discovered by a missionary, W. M. Strong, and translated into English. I had heard of it for years and always assumed that the action took place in the days when the work of Peter Waldo led to the formation of the Waldensian Church, around the twelfth century. No date is given in the story, but its setting is more recent than that. One source says that "the earliest printing of the book was in the late 1890s, so that would give a time frame of mid to late 19th century for when the events occurred." One of the songs which Paula sings is "No Night There" beginning, "In the land of fadeless day," which was copyrighted in 1899. So unless this song was substituted by the English translator for another that was in the original, the book could not have been written before then.
The story is supposed to be true or at least based on real happenings, although the author most likely used literary license to fill in the gaps of conversations and perhaps changed names. She writes in the Preface as though she were Lisita now "living in the little town of Villar," although some versions of the book's Preface put Villar-Pellice in France, when it actually lies on the Italian side of the Alps as indicated in the story itself. The book has been published by several conservative Christian publishers. I just happened to pick up the edition from A. B. Publishing at a homeschool conference. There are references to praying for salvation and decorating a Christmas tree in the local village chapel. However, overall Paula the Waldensian is a wonderful book. Without giving away the conclusion, I will say that it is a tear-jerker at the end. There is sadness, but there is also a sense of triumph. We did it as a family read aloud, and everyone enjoyed it, even through our slightly misty eyes.
Paula The Waldensian is an older work, published in the 1940's and is a placid book, not terribly exciting, with predictable events throughout the book, and and even more unsurprising ending.
Doesn't sound all that appealing, does it?
Ah, but it is. Very much so. Honestly, I believe it's a must-have for any Christian bookshelf. It's an edifying story and definitely character-building as one can learn much from Paula's interactions with the family that she came to live with. It's an epic example of how a person (even one so young as Paula) grounded in their love for their Savior will radically change the lives of those that they come into contact with.
It's in this way that it's a perfect story for pre-teens and teens, but certainly for adults, too.
Packed full of wisdom, it's very well-written, with delightful descriptions and the quaint wording and terminology that can only be found in older books. I found it interesting that it was told in first person, as a memory, with the main character, Lisita, sharing in great detail the defining moments of her life that make up the story.
Will YOU read it? You should. It will definitely be time well-spent.
This book, written by Eva Lecomte, takes place in old France. It is about a young, Christian orphan, whose father had recently died. She went to her uncle's and cousins' house to live. She was different from the rest of them. Catalina, Rosa, Lisita, and Louis, are Paula's cousins. Teresa was their faithful, hardworking servant. They were far from being any thing like Paula, with her pure faith in God, her willingness to obey, her unselfishness, and all the things about Paula which would cheer someone and make it easy for many to love her. Of the residents of her uncle's house the only one whose actions were close to Paula's was Teresa and her claim to faith. Paula belief in God, her prayers and reading of her Bible showed in her life. There was a problem; her uncle wished for her to stop her faith in God. A long while ago, the family had lost their mother; Paula had lost both her parents, in death.
When Paula's uncle lost his wife, he gave up his belief in God and ordered that the whole house stop worshipping God. Sadly, they all did. When Paula came and prayed before her meal everyone wondered what would happen, when their father was present to see her pray. He ordered her to stop praying but she showed him the verse in Act 29 that we have to obey God rather than man. Finally he left with her Bible in which she had shown him the verse. Paula in a humble tone asked him for the Bible but he said he would keep it now and she was never to have it. Paula grieving went to bed.
Paula endured many tests and trials and is always a good testimony. She was such a good testimony that some of the people she came to know became Christians as well as all of the new family she came to live with and love. Everyone came to respect Paula. The Lord brought her to be a good testimony and to save those He had prepared for her. Paula kept His will even when her Bible was gone. She was a fisher of men, like in Matthew.