NEW NOVEL: The Trials of Isabella M Smugge

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‘Another hashtag-filled ride… balancing life’s unexpected with honesty, hope and style.’
Lauren H Brandenburg – award-winning author of The Death of Mungo Blackwell

In her sparkling new novel The Trials of Isabella M Smugge, freelance writer Ruth Leigh explores what it looks like for someone new to church to explore questions of faith. What does it mean to be honest with God in prayer? And how are we supposed to forgive those who betray and hurt us?

Picking up where The Diary of Isabella M Smugge left off, Ruth’s sequel is comic and profound in turn. As wealthy ‘Mumfluencer’ and Instagram star, Isabella Smugge, confronts the consequences of her husband’s cheating, her close friend’s sudden brush with death and a surprise pregnancy, she begins to question all that she thought she knew. Drawing unexpected inspiration from her local church, in spite of being plunged into bizarre ecclesiastical subculture, she begins to reflect on how she should respond to those who have hurt her, how she can be a better person and even whether she might leave the velvet embrace of private health care for the NHS!

Ruth also shows Isabella discovering the power of being more honest in her professional life, of not always presenting an ever-perfect face to the Instagram world. As top ‘Instamum’ Louise Pentland has found, being honest about issues like PTSD and relational breakdowns can be a wonderful way of connecting with her more than 2.5 million followers, and both encouraging them and being encouraged herself.[i] But while Isabella is able to be more open about her trials with her millions of adoring fans, she wonders if she can also be truly open with God. And many of us, if we are honest, can probably relate. When we are angry or frustrated, we can want to vent our feelings, even to swear, but can we do this before God, or do we have to ‘filter’ our true selves before we come to Him in prayer?

Ruth comments, ‘Like many people in the UK, Isabella has only the very sketchiest notion of what God’s transforming love could mean for her. As she navigates her way through a difficult year, she starts to reach out to Him and wonders if He really could love her, carefully hidden warts and all.’

The Trials of Isabella M Smugge can be read as a standalone novel, and will make you laugh, cry and question what it means to have true faith, one that is unfiltered and real. Read it and be encouraged by Isabella as she opens her life to you, and considers opening it to God.


The Trials of Isabella M Smugge by Ruth Leigh (ISBN: 9781912726509) is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 22nd October 2021 from bookshops and online retailers. Fiction, paperback, 288pp, £9.99.



  • Ruth Leigh

    Ruth Leigh is a freelance writer and novelist, and is married with three children, one husband and assorted livestock.

  • The Trials of Isabella M Smugge

    Ruth Leigh

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