Amanda Barber

Stories, songs, and thoughts on life.

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Summary of The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse

10 February 2012

Spanning the calamitous turmoil of a World War and the deadly Influenza plague of 1918, The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse is a spellbinding portrait of a young girl’s struggle against the travails of modern loss and faithlessness. Born to privilege and wealth, Elizabeth Millhouse is the only child of a tense and loveless relationship. Sequestered to a boarding school at a tender age, Elizabeth is ordered to stay at school even through holidays. When she is finally allowed home for the first time, it is only to visit a newly-affectionate father on his death bed. After prayers for her father’s recovery are denied, she rejects God and determines to live her life without reference to Him. Left alone with a cold and distant mother, Elizabeth seeks to forge her own path, searching for permanence and love in a world where circumstances shift like quicksand beneath her feet. Personal loss and the revelation of her own history build to a sudden understanding—in barring God, she has denied herself the love she craves.

The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse has all the elements of a fascinating story. The plot, with its hint of mystery and unexpected twists and turns, compels the reader to keep turning pages. The cast of characters with their unmistakably human quirks and idiosyncrasies are as real, as life-like and as recognizable as the reader’s friends, relatives and neighbors. Some though not human are as equally familiar, such as George, the cat, who had kittens and the fox who gave Elizabeth artistic inspiration…

Although hearkening back to a different period in America’s cultural history, the story deals with topics that are still relevant today. The ideas of feminism, romantic love and motherhood are touched upon. But foremost is Elizabeth’s spiritual struggle as she grapples with the love of God juxtaposed against the presence of evil. The universal appeal of this topic makes The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse not only an encouraging read for Christians, but also a thought-provoking, unique, and informative perspective for non-Christians. After all, evil may be much closer than a distant idea that painfully intrudes into our lives in the form of tragedy and wrongs committed against us. Evil, in fact, resides in our hearts and reveals itself in our crimes against a holy and loving God.