Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review of Defiant Joy: The Life of Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte

For awhile now I have been intrigued by G.K. Chesterton, but my exposure to him as remained minimal.  So I was very excited for the opportunity to review Kevin Belmonte’s biography on the life and work of Chesterton .  I received this book free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review. 

Belmonte is an apt biographer, I enjoyed his smaller work on William Wilberforce, and so I assumed this one would be good as well.  It weighs in at 315 pages and Belmonte states early that his goal is not to be extensive but to provide a summary of the life and writings of Chesterton.  His hope is that this work will encourage those of us newly exposed to G.K. to seek out more. 

For one with a minimum amount of exposure to Chesterton I feel that now I have a decent grasp on his works.  There are large portions of his writings and also of reviews by his contemporaries.  It is an interesting take on a biography.  Honestly it is more of a survey of his writings than it is an introduction to his life.

I was looking for something more on the life of Chesterton—and Belmonte said he had hoped to survey his works “in the context of his remarkable life”.  In reading this I think Belmonte knocked his first goal out of the park.  This is a very apt survey of the works of Chesterton.  He could have interacted with Chesterton a little more, but it serves as an apt introductory survey. 

However, if you are looking for an introduction into the life of Chesterton I would not suggest this book.  After trudging through 315 pages of Chesterton I still only feel minimally exposed to his life.  I know a few general facts but I wish Belmonte would have quoted less and interacted with his life a little more. 

Perhaps you will like it.  I had a hard time getting through it.  Maybe if this were the second Chesterton book that I had read I would have enjoyed this offering more.  But did Belmonte accomplish his goal of making me want to read more Chesterton?  Yes and no.  I want to read more of Chesterton because I am still intrigued by him—but I have to humbly confess that I will not be picking up another Chesterton work because of this one. 

If you are already somewhat exposed to Chesterton and want something that interacts with all of his works then Belmonte’s work here will be fitting.  But if you are looking for an introduction into the life of Chesterton I think you may want to look elsewhere. 

Rating 3 out of 5 stars

Buy it from Amazon for only 11.81

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