Book Reviews, Faith, Suffering

BOOK REVIEW: A Certain Brightness by Philippa Ruth Wilson

Published by Christian Focus (May 2021)

This book has to be one of the best I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. Perhaps it is because it speaks so tenderly and compassionately to the weary, fragile soul. Maybe it is because it’s beautifully written and is accompanied with sketched illustrations by Rebekah Lesan that focus the heart and mind on Jesus. Every single devotion in this book spoke powerfully to me. The truth of the gospel is evident on each page and Philippa’s grasp of God’s love, mercy and presence in the midst of her own sorrow and struggle is poignant.

Philippa writes with such honesty. She is like the friend who sits by you, offering you a warm drink and speaking truth to the troubled heart. However, she writes what she knows from experience, and this kindness, wisdom and love comes from her real faith in Jesus. She has known deep depression, loneliness and failure in her life which she has shared openly on her blog ‘A Certain Brightness‘ and shares some of her story in the book. Every devotional reading is short, accompanied by a powerful black and white illustration that encapsulates the words that she pens. The unique headings of each devotion are only five words long, yet communicate an important biblical truth that can be applied to the life of the reader and memorised, even in the hardest of trials. Each devotional ends with a short prayer and an excerpt from a well-loved hymn which encourages the reader to continually look to Christ.

I found myself reflecting on her words slowly. I wanted to digest every ounce of gospel truth which spoke to my heart as I recollected my own suffering. My eyes would linger on the illustrations as they helped me to soak in the message more. Philippa’s writing style is very easy to read and the words show rather than simply tell the reader about Jesus. Her writing inspires my own. A Certain Brightness is a book that you could read quickly through, but the real delight is to stop and ponder. In our hurried, hurting world, resting and taking time to digest uplifting, soul-satisfying words is a welcome retreat for both the mind and heart.

It is clear that Philippa has a love for Jesus and His Word. She selflessly wants to share her hope with others who are hurting. This book is a treasure to hold on to, solace for the soul, and will edify those who need it or who simply want to comfort another. I know I will be recommending this book to many and opening it time and time again.


Philippa Ruth Wilson has blogged about Jesus and depression at A Certain Brightness for 5 years. She holds a BA in theology, an MA in creative writing, and teaches English to Cardiff teenagers. Outside of the classroom, you will find her charity shop bargain–hunting, writing her novel or having a nap.

You can purchase A Certain Brightness from your local Christian retailer, Christian Focus, 10ofThose and Eden. Also available on Amazon.