Review of Seven Women and the Secret of their Greatness

The first book I reviewed on this blog was Eric Metaxas’s Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness. It’s only fitting that I review the new companion book called Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness.

As with the 7 Men book I’d categorize this book as a modern-day sequel to Hebrews 11. It recounts modern day heroes of faith and gives us condensed biographies of their lives that, while short, still feel remarkably comprehensive.

The women highlighted here include Joan of Arc, Suzanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Mother Teresa, and Rosa Parks.

As I found with the 7 Men book, once I started reading the accounts it was hard to put them down. For one thing, given my 21st century attention span I knew that I wouldn’t be spending weeks or months getting through it. But more importantly, Metaxas’s writing is more conversational and flows more naturally than your typical heavy biographic tome. If you’ve ever heard his podcast/radio show (which I highly recommend), you’ll recognized that he writes with the same natural flow was he speaks with.

The story of Joan of Arc is a good example of one where I’d heard the name before but never really knew much about her, even to the point of wondering if she was a real historical figure. Although admittedly I was better than my wife who heard me mention her name and asked “was that the wife of Noah of Ark?” But I think both of us are probably better than those who confuse her with Knot’s Landing’s Joan Van Ark.

Metaxas goes through the entire history of Joan of Arc from her childhood to her life of prayer to her visions to her eventually leading a armies for France against England and to her ultimate demise in a story that’s been repeated many times before and since–a lone figure standing up for what she believed in ultimately condemned by the mob of those unable and unwilling to even try to understand her.

What I really love about the way Metaxas tells it is that he doesn’t interject the account with commentary or interpretation or revisionism. He just tells her story uninterrupted and lets you draw your own conclusions.

Even though it happened 500 years later, his recounting of Rosa Parks’ story is just as compelling. Revisionist historians talk about civil rights figures such as Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson as the heroes they are, but what’s mentioned less and less as the years go by is how much a role Jesus Christ played in their lives. In fact, both became heroes not just because they stood up alone against a culture that tried to intimidate and bully them, but because they did it with Christ-like humility, faithfulness, and gentleness.

All of these stories follow a similar pattern of women in the face of insurmountable odds finding the strength in God and in themselves to persevere and conquer. It’s a great book to share with the young tween or teen girl in your life to remind them that yes, there are amazing female role models in this world that they can follow as alternatives to the Kardashians, Cyruses, or Grandes that the world expect them to follow.