The Trials of Isabella M Smugge – Ruth Leigh

It was so nice to be back in Isabella’s company for another season of relaxation and enjoyment. This is the second book offering us insight into a year in the life of the social media influencer and lifestyle guru, and it is no disappointment. It is just a just as good fun as the first instalment (The Diary of Isabella M Smugge).

Being the second book in the series, there is plenty of scene setting in the first chapter, so if you haven’t read book one then you will soon catch up (but better still, read that one too!)

During our year in her life, Isabella is faced with some serious issues to deal with, as most people do in their life adventure, plus she continues her journey of realisation, challenging what is really important to her and what brings her happiness.

Her trials, which are quite a list of significant life events, do strengthen her. Whilst coping with a new baby and being a single mother to four, she battles with loneliness, dysfunctional relationships and rejection in her own inimitable style. New layers of the onion are peeled away, exposing more of her background and family history, to offer more insight into the circumstances that created the characters.

Her attitudes change, her opinions soften, her barriers come down and she becomes a little bit more down to earth, whilst at the same time as a becoming a little more heavenly, as faith slowly edges in and becomes more relevant.

Her encounters at church are hilarious, and yet again highlight how Christians can sometimes come across as being a bit weird… welcoming but weird! The influence of her Christian friends is great to see, the impact they have and the way Isabella keeps asking herself “what would Claire do” (the vicar’s wife). It shouts loudly about the impact that friendship and kindness can have, even on the most impenetrable of characters.

The Christian input slowly permeates her life and becomes a little more meaningful, adding a new dimension to her thinking. This is such a true to life reaction for someone starting to attend church and hearing the gospel. No blinding lights or epiphany moments, but a gentle leaning in towards what is heard, letting the gospel infuse her like one of her herbal teas. This resonated with my own turning to faith in my early 20’s… just a gentle and genuine shift of the sands.

Best of all, these books just make you feel good. They are fun to read, fast paced, great characters (some to love and some to loathe) and are heart-warming.

In the closing chapter there is plenty still to be sorted in her story and I am excited to see that the next instalment should be out later this year.

The Trials of Isabella M Smugge, by Ruth Leigh, is available here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, but was under no pressure to provide a favourable review.