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A Blossom in the Desert: Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter Hardcover – September 1, 2007

5 out of 5 stars 31 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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

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. (This review refers to the Hardcover edition of this title.) --(Nov.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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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
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Noel H. Piper on April 13, 2008
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
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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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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This is my very first post, so you know it took something for me to do it. But this book deserves all 5 stars. I am a serious student of the Bible and other literature, but these reflections are often way out of my league. Lilias Trotter lived in an era when people wrote well, and thought deeply about the meaning of life and the beauty of God and His creation. I am tiptoeing through this book, taking my time, and pausing to contemplate the significance of God's mysterious ways and works, which Lilias so beautifully expresses in words and in her painting. I am grateful for Miriam Rockness' skill in putting this book together. Thanks, Miriam! To God be the glory.
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This book is a delightful treasure! I love the artwork by the author, along with her reflections. I'm using this book in my Quiet Time (devotions) and find that the many of the things shared by the author are applicable to me today. I bought the book because I had never heard of Lilias Trotter before, but now I know that she was an artist and missionary to the people in Algeria serving them for 38 years. She died in 1928. Thrilled that her art work & writings were compiled in one book. Along with scripture passages, she often shares something that she has observed and learned from nature or from some life experience. This is the type of book that it is fine to just read a page here and there. My only complaint with the book is that it does not have page numbers!
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