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A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter Paperback – July 1, 2003

4.9 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I am stounded by... the beautiful expression of who Lilias was and what her legacy teaches us. I couldn't put [the book] down, as they say, and I read it--devoured it--carefully, gladly, and with great blessing... a "drop everything book"!
(Elisabeth Elliot, author and speaker)

"Miriam Rockness [has done] a painstakingly superb job of researching original documents. Her book is [filled] with quotes that will challenge the reader's faith and obedience to God... a fresh look at another one of England's distinguished missionary pioneers..."
(Jim Reapsome, review for "Evangelical Missions Quarterly")

From the Back Cover

A Passion for the Impossible

This is the story of the woman whose life of faith and devotion inspired the hymn "Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus". Although art critic John Ruskin enthusiastically proclaimed Lilas Trotter's potential as one of the best artists of the nineteenth century, her devotion to Christ compelled her to abandon the life of art, privilege and leisure she could have enjoyed.

Without knowing the language and without the sponsorship of any organization, Lilias left her London home of comfort for a modest dwelling in Algeria, where her love of literature and art became dynamic tools for evangelism, and where her compassionate heart captured the hearts of the people. For forty years, despite frail health and many obstacles, Lilias devoted herself to missionary service among the people of Algeria through her lifestyle of love and encouragement.

"(Christians') works do follow them." wrote Lilias. In writing of this truth, she prophetically supplied a perspective of her own legacy--and the legacy of all who invest in the kingdom of God.

"I am astounded by...the beautiful expression of who Lilias was and what her legacy teaches us. I couldn't put (the book) down, as they say, and I read it--devoured it--carefully, gladly, and with great blessing...a "drop everything book"!    --Elisabeth Elliot, author and speaker.

"Miriam Rockness (has done) a painstakingly superb job of researching original documents. Her book is (filled) with quotes that will challenge the reader's faith and obedience to God...a fresh look at another one of England's distinguished missionary pioneers..."   --Jim Reapsome, review for Evangelical Missions Quarterly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery House (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572931086
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572931084
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As the premier art critic in Victorian England, John Ruskin was the arbiter of taste. In 1883 he revealed a hard-to-believe prejudice: "For a long time I used to say . . . that except in a graceful and minor way, women could not draw or paint." Ruskin then discounted this view, based on his reaction to the art of a young woman named Lilias Trotter: "I'm beginning lately to bow myself to the much more delightful conviction that no one else can" draw or paint.
In a 1960s book, RUSKIN TODAY, Sir Kenneth Clark mentioned Trotter as someone lost to history. But Clark hadn't turned over every leaf, as has biographer Miriam Rockness, who discovered Trotter through bequeathed volumes of her out-of-print illustrated books.
A bright, talented daughter of a prominent stockbroker in London, Lilias Trotter (1853-1928) was comfortable in the company of privilege. At age 21 she was among guests, including George MacDonald and Bishop Wilberforce, invited to a religious retreat, the forerunner of the Keswick Conferences.
Spiritually stirred by this and the preaching of Dwight Moody, Lilias grew discontent with the in-vogue "charity from a distance." For more than 10 years in London, she devotedly worked to help establish a hostel for working women, the forerunner of the YWCA.
During this time, while on vacation in Venice, her meddling mother asked Ruskin to look at Lilias's watercolor paintings --- a request that led to art lessons, weekend invitations, and extended conversations and correspondence between the Miss and the Master, who claimed she could be the greatest painter of her generation if she would "give herself up to art.
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Format: Paperback
I am a voracious reader of non-fiction (particularly Christian non-fiction), but out of thousands of books I have read, this biography captivated me like no other. Perhaps because I am a writer and artist, I could identify with Lilias and her passions. Ultimately, however, this is a story of adventure, sacrifice, surrender and uncompromising dedication to Jesus Christ, all set against the exotic backdrop of Algeria. I can't wait to meet Lilias in heaven and tell her how she inspired me. Of course, I also look forward to meeting the authors someday because they brought Lilias to life. The narrative is as lovely as Lilias' art!
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Format: Paperback
This book does indeed weave a challenging and interesting tale of a pioneeer missionary, who for the sake of the gospel left a comfortable and gracious victorian life for a life of sacrifice in the northern deserts of Africa, among Muslim tribemen.It is carefully crafted and includes some prints of Lilias' own artwork, which from what can be seen, is lovely.I wish a book could be devoted to more prints and more about Lilias' travels!
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By A Customer on January 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
There are few things that inspire me more than a true story of a child of God who is faithful in the face of success and apparent failure. I see the reality of this woman's walk with God to be the challenge and encouragement. The accounts of her passion, travels, and encounters challenge my perspective on missions. I don't believe I had a real grasp on missions until I read this book. The quotations of her own journals and other writings bring a special feeling of knowing Lilias by the end of the book. This is a book I highly encourage all believers to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this book and was so impressed with the astonishing results this woman achieved because of her total surrender to God's plans. An accomplished young artist from an upper class Victorian family, she left the comforts of England and went into Algeria, a country inhabitated by Arabs who were mostly Muslim. It was a slow but steady start, because of language problems, government interference (because of suspicions about missionaries motives), and just the differences in the different ways of thinking and lifestyles of the Algerian people.

Lilias spent several decades of her life doing the "basics" in securing the beginnings of a life long ministry among a people hungry for deep spiritual lessons, but finding ways to do this required much patience, thought and forgiveness. And on top of all this, she is dealing with a new language, both spoken and written.

The majority of this book is taken from Lilias's copius journals, letters and writings where she kept records of what she was involved in day by day.

I learned a lot about what the foreign missionary effort entails, and especially when you're the first to go into an area with some brand new ideas where life is so different. But she won them over slowly with her love. As time went on, she had much help from other women and men who worked with her in this cause.

The last couple of decades her health was not good, but she just kept on plugging away, even writing from her bed the last two years.

She wrote some beautiful booklets that have profound lessons of faith and obedience in them. "Parables of the Cross" and "Parables of the Christ Life" are just two of them.
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