With life just beginning to settle down, I'm having trouble posting book reviews on time, but hopefully I'll be back on schedule soon. I thoroughly enjoyed this week's book, Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton, perhaps because I'm married to my own modern-day version of Mr. Chips. I've long been a fan of the 1939 movie, and it was fun comparing it to the book. The literary Mr. Chips is just as endearing as the live-action Mr. Chips, and the movie does a wonderful job translating Hilton's book to the big screen. I especially appreciate the way Mr. Chips (whose real name is Chipping, by the way)embodies the Christian doctrine of vocation. He wasn't terribly ambitious, he knew his strengths and limitations and lived accordingly, and he faithfully and steadily labored to teach his students and help train them to take their places in the world when they grew up. He understood that small tasks performed quietly and faithfully reaped big results, and he didn't expect great acclaim from simply fulfilling his vocation either. But he did receive personal satisfaction and a sense of doing something that mattered, a sense of serving something bigger than himself. We in the twenty-first century can learn a lot from this man forged during the height of Victorian England.
For some reason, I had always had the idea that Goodbye, Mr. Chips was Hilton's memoirs of his time as a Latin master in an English boys' school. I don't know where I got that idea, but it was totally wrong. Hilton was an author by trade who penned this novel in homage to schoolmasters everywhere. Goodbye, Mr. Chips was his most popular book. If you'd like a light, quick summer read, then you won't go wrong with this little gem. It is delightful!