George MacDonald has a clever way of presenting a series of short stories as a larger tale, by making it a story about a story-telling club. The larger tale is tame enough and realistic enough, that I found myself wondering as to whether it might really be nonfiction. The tales within the tales are sometimes MacDonald's famous fairytails and sometimes a shadow of his own life.
Over-all, the plot wasn't terribly exciting. Still, it was free, and it made a good read when I needed something to do. Of course, this is only volume three of three. Readers should start with the first volume, naturally. I chose this volume to write a review, because it was the one that annoyed me the most. For some reason, it was plagued with a bad case of runaway italics. This made for a difficult read.
This was, perhaps, the most enjoyable of Chesterton's works that I have read. I say this after having read every fiction of his available on this site.
Manalive is a tale about what it means to live like a child. Chesterton explores his own world, as though looking at it for the first time. In this, I find the storyline both amusing and inspiring. I discovered that much of what I need for happiness is already in my grasp. Too much of the best things in life have been lost to convention, and too many of the greatest wonders in life are routinely ignored. That is the essence of this book. The protagonist is a madman, or perhaps he is the only sane person left in the world. The reader must decide.
I found startling the point that society is moving torward the view that all religious belief is personal, that faith should not be held as a perspective on an external truth (Otherwise, one might say that another man is wrong in his beliefs). What it shows is that Postmodernism was already at work even in his time, though Modernism was considered the driving force behind the two World Wars and the Holocaust.
Otherwise, it is an amusing tale of two enemies who just can't seem to find a private place where they might kill each other. If it isn't the interference of people, then it's the interference of nature. The plot is absurd enough to point at the fatalism behind it.