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A Blossom in the Desert Hardcover – September 1, 2007

5 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sadly, the name of Lilias Trotter is no longer remembered by many people, except those 19th-century art experts who recall her as the painter who caused art critic John Ruskin to rhapsodically change his mind about the ability of women to be artists. Though all but forgotten now as an artist, Trotter (1853–1928) is venerated as a pioneering Christian missionary—she founded and funded a mission in North Africa where she served for nearly 40 years. In this gift book, Rockness, author of the Trotter biography A Passion for the Impossible, brings together Trotter's dual lives—promising artist in her 20s, devoted missionary in her 30s and beyond—by pairing Trotter's paintings and sketches with devotional thoughts from her journals and many books, including Parables of the Cross. Trotter was clearly a deep thinker with a poetic soul, and her paintings practically shimmer on the page. While they match up perfectly with her devotions, the scripture references can sometimes feel less relevant or tacked on; it would also be helpful if the source or context of each Trotter quote were identified. Still, this lovely book is a feast for the eyes and the spirit. (Nov.)
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From the Back Cover

In 1888, Lilias Trotter, daughter of a distinguished Victorian family, left her comfortable upper-class lifestyle in London to venture into the Arab world of Algeria and Northern Africa, where she spent the rest of her life living out the life and light and love of Jesus Christ to those around her. Lilias viewed the world with "heartsight as deep as eyesight", and her artistic talent took both visual and verbal form as she documented in words and sketches the seasons of her forty years in Algeria.

The exquisite paintings and deeply inspirational writings in A Blossom in the Desert are drawn from the extensive body of work Lilias Trotter left: devotional books and leaflets, journals and letters, and thirty astonishingly beautiful page-a-day diaries. Lilias believed God has two textbooks--Scripture and Creation--and she studied both. Day by day, decade upon decade, through the seasons of her life, Lilias recorded in watercolors and words her observations filtered through her heavenly vision: God working out His purposes on a land and in a people.

"Lilias painted and wrote in obscurity with no concern for fame or recognition. Yet there is no doubt that she would welcome the reader to 'come and look' at her writings and watercolors--with 'heartsight' as well as 'eyesight.' A Blossom in the Desert introduces to you the vision--visible and invisible--of the remarkable Lilias Trotter! Come. Look. See!"

-from the Introduction by Miriam Huffman Rockness


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery House Publishers (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572932562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572932562
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Did you know your dream has come true? There's a book of Lilias Trotter's art now--A Blossom in the Desert," I emailed a friend last week. Miriam Rockness, who edited this book, earlier wrote the book that introduced me to Lilias Trotter, A Passion for the Impossible. I was so inspired by her story that I included it in Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God.

We who admire Lilias Trotter have waited a long time actually to see her artwork. Until now, it was hidden away in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford University and in the archives of the Arab World Ministries. We owe a huge debt to Rockness for laboring to bring these exquisite works to the public.

Lilias Trotter was an upper-class English woman of the Victorian era whose drawings and water colors were admired by John Ruskin, the art authority of the day. He foresaw for her a life of glory and fame if she devoted herself to her art.

Instead, she turned her back on that dream and followed the calling of God to Algeria, arriving in 1888 and dying there 40 years later. As so often happens, she discovered that God wasn't asking her to give up her talent, but to use it in a different place for different purposes.

Among other things, she often illustrated her journal entries and the letters she sent home with her artwork, a visual treasure of North Africa as it was then. She also wrote several small books of meditations, often springing from her observations of nature and always illustrated with her drawings.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This lovely book is one that you will treasure! The pages include Lilias Trotter's beautiful watercolor paintings and her deeply edifying writings accompany each picture. Her spiritual insight was truly a gift from God and she was able to teach truths through the life cycle of plants, trees, seeds - the natural consequences of life and death. This book is one that is priceless, one that you will read over and over if you want to grow closer to God through Jesus Christ.
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Format: Hardcover
My first introduction to Lilias Trotter came when I read Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper. I remember thinking at the time how wonderful it would be to actually see some of Trotter's art and read her writings. Sadly, her books are out of print and her paintings and sketchbooks are hidden away in the Print Room of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. Miriam Huffman Rockness, however, set out on the long, arduous journey of finding Trotter's journals, diaries, out-of-print books, and art. She has given us a gift in A Blossom in the Desert: Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter.

A Blossom in the Desert begins with a testimony from Rockness of how she first came to know, admire, and seek out the work of Lilias Trotter to fulfill her vision of seeing Trotter in print again. It is a story of God's providence. After reading this collection, I am convinced God is pleased with the unearthing of Trotter's work and will be glorified if more of His people follow her exemplary life. Trotter's mentor promised that "she would be the greatest living painter and do things that would be Immortal." In Trotter's mind, "to be Immortal" would mean she would have to "give herself up to art." She wrote, "I see clear as daylight now, I cannot give myself to painting in the way he means and continue to 'seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.'" She forsook all the fame and riches of this world, the approval of her friends and family, to follow Christ in ministering to young Muslim girls and women in northern Africa.
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Format: Hardcover
From start to finish this beautiful book communicates inspiration in the best sense --- hope, love, faith --- strength for the journey. Open to any page and you find full-color art and full-bodied words, both presented by the hand of a truly original Victorian woman.

Who was Lilias Trotter (1853-1928)? As a young gentrified woman in London, she grew dissatisfied with her privileged life and helped establish a hostel for poor women, which eventually led to the founding of the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association). On the side she was drawing and painting. Her artwork came to the attention of --- and quite astounded --- art critic John Ruskin. As Ruskin pushed her to "give herself up to art," Trotter responded rather to a spiritual nudge to abandon art training and its potential fame and move to Algeria to share the light and love of Christ in the North African desert. (For more details, see my review of Miriam Huffman Rockness's 2003 biography of Trotter, A PASSION FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE.)

Yet Trotter never lost her appreciation for the beauty of creation and architectural forms. She never stopped her eye and hand from artistically interpreting what she viewed, whether on holiday in the Alps or at home in the desert. For 30 years Trotter "kept" a page-a-day diary in which she reflected on and painted her world. From these diaries, sketchbooks and some illustrated booklets, Rockness has produced this stunning devotional scrapbook, organized in three sections: light, love and faith. Each two-page spread features one or more watercolors, along with a Bible verse and a Trotter reflection.

The words: The most delightful selections are short lessons and parables drawn from nature. "The daisies have been talking again...
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