Title: One Rich Girl
Author: Gwenda Smithies
Major Themes: Motherhood, Families, New Zealand, Family Read-Alouds, Memoirs, Christian Non-Fiction, 1950-2000 History, 21st Century History, Books for Women
Synopsis: A mother celebrates her life with many children, proving that she is one of the richest women in the world.
I was rather excited when I heard that Gwenda Smithies had written a book about her life. I met her several years ago at a meeting, and although I have not visited very much with her, I have greatly admired her. I’ve actually had more to do with her children than with her, and also talked to her mother awhile back. I was delighted to be given a copy of her book, One Rich Girl, to read.
Gwenda tells the story of her life from a third-person point of view, in a matter-of-fact way. She grew up in Nelson, and moved to Christchurch for University. There, she eventually met the man she would marry. They went on to have twelve beautiful children! Gwenda tells many stories about raising her children (the youngest of whom is only a couple of years old right now). Her joy in her family is very inspiring. I really loved reading about her experiences as the children came along.
Gwenda’s faith is also inspiring. I appreciated the way she shared about her walk with God and how He worked in her life. God’s provision for the Smithies family’s needs is also amazing—I loved the way He gave them a dishwasher when they needed one. Gwenda’s challenge with forgiveness at one point stood out to me, as well.
One Rich Girl is a great book to read if you enjoy stories of mothers and their children. Read this book to be encouraged to love your husband and to love your children, and to find joy in the little everyday things in life. It will also encourage you in your prayer life. I would have liked this book very much even if I didn’t know the author personally, but since I do, that adds another dimension, of course.
I received a free copy of this book from the author, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
Several months ago, I was contacted by the daughter of the woman who wrote One Rich Girl. We had met several times previously, and had worked together on a project for several months, so when I heard that her mother had written a memoir, I knew I wanted to read it! Their family is one I’ve always appreciated from a distance, and wished we could get to know better—but that hasn’t happened so far. However, reading this book made me feel like I know them a little bit better, and I was quite encouraged by some of the things I came across in here!
Though she didn’t grow up in a home of luxury, Gwenda never really knew lack—and her parent’s faith was always a sustaining portion of her childhood. As she passed through childhood and young adulthood—and came to know the Lord herself—she learned how much she needed to rely on God. Then, after several up and down relationships, she got married—and soon had quite a few children to raise. But life wasn’t always easy. And when troubles came up, she had to turn to the Lord again.
One Rich Girl was quite an encouragement to me. I didn’t know how well I would be able to get into the story when I started, just because of the way it’s written, but I ended up gleaning some real encouragement from it. Gwenda’s stories are an example of faith in action—something you don’t always hear a lot about, but are great encouragements if you do come across them.
One of the things that stuck out to me the most from this story was how the Lord loves to answer our prayers—not always in the time or ways we want or expect them, but He does delight to answer His children. There is story after story in here where the Lord came through in wonderful ways, and although I know life wasn’t always easy or perfect, I found it encouraging to see how He worked in this family.
If you’re a mother of a homeschool family, I think you would find this book encouraging. But even if you aren’t, I think many could glean a lot from these pages. It’s not a long read, which makes it easier than some. Recommended.
I was offered a free review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: In the chapter titled “I Shall Not Die”, Gwenda has a massive hemorrhage right after the birth of one of her children, and almost dies.
Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults