Not sure I know what to make of this review!

 “A teeth-clenching book” The Church Times, (Review of Mother of Malawi)

While I’m pleased that the mainstream denominational media in the UK, The Church Times (said to be the world’s leading Anglican newspaper) has reviewed Mother of Malawi, I’m not sure if it will attract readers from the Church of England or turn them away.

The review entitled ‘Jesus seen in faces of orphans’ and with the sub-heading ‘Pat Ashworth admires the subject of a didactic biography’ looks positive, but later in the review it seems didactic may have been used in a negative way.

Didactic means “intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive: a didactic novel that set out to expose social injustice.” Yes, the book does set out to do exactly that!

It also means “in the manner of a teacher, particularly so as to appear patronising: his tone ranged from didactic to backslapping.” This could imply the book is written with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority, which I don’t believe to be the case. Annie humbly shares both her strengths and weaknesses, going the extra mile to help people see that if she could overcome the obstacles she did, others can too.

The reviewer applauds the subject of the biography, Annie Chikhwaza and says I should be ‘rightly proud’ of my achievement in writing the book which is gracious enough, despite the interpretation of the word didactic and some other negative observations.

I will put these down to constructive criticism, expected from a different theological viewpoint and each reader will have to make up their own mind what they think of the both the book and this review. Read the full review.

For me the quotable quote to come out of this well written, though in places incongruous review, is: “this is a teeth-clenching book” – although I suspect this is not meant as a compliment, as it starts with a BUT. But, I’m going to take it as one! I read that ‘The Hunger Games’ is a teeth-clenching book, so I’m in good company.

I hope the clenching of teeth pertains to reading Annie’s exciting account of overcoming the brutal attack on her life and not the reviewer’s aversion to ‘my tabloid style in places’, which she says ‘reads like GOD TV in print!’ To some readers, that would be a huge plus!

Pat Ashworth’s conclusion is positive at least, acknowledging that a quote from Annie about her love for the children is a ‘gospel truth that couldn’t be more simply put’

Thank you Church Times for the review, and Anglicans please read the book and judge for yourself!

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About Al GIbson

Communications professional, Al Gibson works in Christian media, writes inspirational biographies and is an active online contributor.


  1. God knows the intentions of your heart Al, and the intentions of Annie in her ministry and that is all that matters, as opinions will always differ according to people’s standpoints, experiences and bias, so let God speak into their hearts and the Holy Spirit clear up what needs to be clarified.

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