If you want an introduction to the life and work of one of Christianity's most endearing thought leaders, this is it. Kevin Belmonte provides a great overview to the classic and larger-than-life writer, Gilbert Keith Chesterton.
I was first introduced to G.K. Chesterton through Dr. Ravi Zacharias, who quotes Chesterton often in his talks and clearly thinks highly of him. Since I think highly of Dr. Zacharias, it seemed obvious I should learn more about Chesterton.
So I jumped at the chance to review Defiant Joy when BookSneeze offered it to reviewers. Well, the cover image had me second-guessing for a moment, but then I remembered I'd be learning more about the inside of Chesterton's head than the outside of it.
I was hooked by the introduction and hung on for the rest of the book. Belmonte weaves examples of Chesterton's work in and out of his biography, focusing on key moments in his life and how they relate to G.K.'s written works.
Belmonte sifts through an enormous amount of content, artfully selecting works and quotes to acquaint readers with Chesterton without overwhelming us.
I gained insight on the joys and challenges motivating Chesterton's diverse interests, from theology and social commentary to mystery and poetry. I also found myself relating to some of his personal struggles, like his early search for God and his passion for dialogue. I couldn't get enough of his story!
Chesterton was as prolific as writers come, so there was naturally lots of material to cover. My reading slowed a bit near the last few chapters of Defiant Joy so I could absorb it all. At the same time, I appreciated how the book gave me a glimpse of the incredible breadth of Chesterton's work and the tirelessness with which he poured himself onto the page.
I found Belmonte's intro to Chesterton witty, inspiring, and memorable. Highly recommended!
Ã¢â¬â Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookSneezeÃÂ® as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
In his work Defiant Joy, Kevin Belmonte gives an exposition of the life of Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Although the life of Chesterton is one that has always intrigued me, as he is truly a literary legend, this book did not really elucidate quite what I hoped it would. I have always loved his quotes and books and really wanted to dig deeper into the life of this larger-than-life writer. But I would say it fell short. It was basically a chronological offering of Chesterton's life and books and how they were received by the public at that time.
Although few, there were nevertheless many interesting things I had learned from the text about Chesterton that I have never known. Belmonte basically takes you through what seems to be a very outside-looking-in feel of looking at Chesterton's life. It seemed like more fitting for a history book than an engaging biography, which does not do a literary legend such as Chesterton justice.
If you want a deep look into the intricacies of G.K.'s life, this is not for you. But if you are looking for basic details and generalization of Chesterton's life, then Mr. Belmonte's book will be what you are looking for. Although it was not what I anticipated, I will by no means say that this was a bad book and will still recommend it to friends and family.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Well written literary biography of fascinating man
March 7, 2011
Defiant Joy by Kevin Belmonte is a literary biography of G.K. Chesterton examining his life and faith through his writings. Gilbert Keith Chesterton is an oft-quoted and still respected writer seventy-five years after his death. He was a prolific and eclectic writer ranging from essays to literary biographies to criticisms to novels, poetry, and a play. Best known for his paradoxical and eminently quotable writings, he has been a touchstone for Christians for a century. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were affected by his writings as were T.S. Eliot and good friend George Bernard Shaw. As a reader who is familiar only with Chesterton's name, this book made for an excellent introduction to the author and his works. Each chaper focuses on an individual work, and Belmonte quotes directly from the work, as well as reviews of it (contemporary and modern) while offering insight into what inspired the work and how it related to Chesterton's life at the time. It's not necessarily an easy read, but for readers who give it a try, it's well worth the effort. Belmonte gives a good look at Chesterton the man through his writing. Readers looking for a deeper biography may be disappointed, but it was perfect for me, a reader wanting to know more about Chesterton, as well as know which books of his I should seek out. Since finishing the book, I've purchased two of Chesterton's books with a list of three more I need to get, so I would say that Belmonte has fulfilled his purpose in Defiant Joy. Readers meet Chesterton, a man filled with a joyous faith and affected everyone he knew, and will be inspired to get to know him further through his writings.
Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K
February 19, 2011
Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K. Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte is a biographical view of Chesterton in the words of some of his best writing.
G.K. Chesterton was a literary giant in his day whose resume included works such as Heretics (1905), Orthodoxy (1908), and The Everlasting Man (1925). This biography gets to the heart of Chesterton as a writer, a critic, and a Christian. Belmonte writes, "His life and writings are an apologetic of enduring worth to Catholics and Protestants alike. God gave him the grace to make it all work- to commend our common faith in an age marked by deep skepticism and hostility to Christianity." 1
As a writer, I delight in reading about other Christian writers to learn how their life unwrapped to create the writer they became later in life.
Chesterton was a colleague of C.S Lewis and enjoyed a great debate about social issues. Like Lewis, Chesterton was a great defender and writing commentator of the faith. As I read through the book, I felt that Chesterton's writings could be relevant today; and they are.
This book is not terribly exciting; however, it provides a plethora of information about Chesterton's life and writings. This book would be excellent for writers and avid history buffs.
1-Belmonte, Kevin. (2010). Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K. Chesterton.
Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson.
Thomas Nelson Publishers provided this book for free as a part of BookSneeze.com book review blogger program.
I am so excited to learn about G.K. Chesterton that I am trying to get some of his books at the library. I already own a copy of "Heretics/Orthodoxy" and will read it as soon as I finish this book. Love it!