The world is growing in knowledge and appreciation for the writings of G.K. Chesterton. As we expand our knowledge about this prolific man, Nancy Carpentier Brown adds a critical piece to the story: a biography of Chesterton’s wife, Frances, entitled The Woman who was Chesterton. Prior to Brown’s book, very little was known about Frances. However, Brown reveals that in order to truly know and appreciate G.K. Chesterton, we have to acquaint ourselves with the woman behind the man.
I found Brown’s depiction of Frances to be graceful, thorough and insightful. She brings Frances to life in a way that respects her memory while adding many missing pieces to her previously unknown life. As I read this biography, I grew in my fondness for Frances and by coming to know her, I desire to know more about her writings as well as her husband’s.
Frances was a devoted wife. Brown highlights her humility and her wisdom that we can see throughout her life. Though Frances was a literary talent, she recognize the genius her husband possessed. She was the one who made sure he made it to speaking engagements on time. She maintained nearly all of the couple’s correspondence. She was his sounding board, helping him clarify and hone in on his ideas.
Brown deftly shows us that Frances is a person in her own right, worth noticing and knowing. If anyone is interested in the work of G.K. Chesterton, their study is not complete until they have come to know the woman who made the man possible.