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No Graven Image

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  263 ratings  ·  53 reviews
First published in 1966, No Graven Image is the only novel of the best-selling author Elisabeth Elliot. Margaret, an intrepid twenty-five-year-old missionary, travels to the Andes Mountains of Ecuador to start her ministry. She sees little progress at first, but eventually gains a following and an enhanced reputation for her part in the safe and seemingly miraculous delive ...more
Paperback, 267 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Fleming H. Revell Company (first published 1966)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  263 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Natalie Vellacott
This is Elisabeth Elliot's only work of fiction. The writing isn't brilliant but the story is compelling. The main character sets out for the mission field full of expectation and idealism. She is swiftly brought back down to earth by the realities of missionary life. The clash of cultures and the different ways that other missionaries on her field respond leads to healthy debate. She slowly finds her own path realising that God leads each person as an individual and that the work is about Him a ...more
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished-in-2017
As a missionary serving outside my passport country, I loved this book! Although it was written as a "fictional novel," this is the most real, honest missionary biography I have read. I would venture to say that it has a lot less "fiction" than most "non-fiction" missionary biographies.

This book is so good, I'm ordering a second copy for my family!

I first heard of this book through an article in Christianity Today titled, "Farewell to the Missionary Hero."
Paul J.
This book was very insightful into many of the struggles and dynamics of missionary life and ministry. The author obviously has personal experience and unusual discernment of these topics, here put into a very engaging storyline.
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I found myself eerily able to identify with Elisabeth Elliot's main character in the novel No Graven Image. In this, Elliot's only novel, we follow the experience of first-time missionary Margaret Sparhawk as she touches down on Ecuadorian soil for the first time, settles into her new home, tries to figure out how to meet the natives, and tries to makes sense of her "calling." The story is told in an embarrassingly honest first-person style.

Embarrassingly honest. As in heart-revealing. Maybe
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I started reading this book sometime last year. It was in a pile of free-for-all books left for the Redeemer staff to pick through. I have been a big Elisabeth Elliot fan since the big P and P. But this was a novel! OOOOh...exciting. This novel about a young missionary woman called to the Indians of Ecuador started slow like molasses and I was actually going to call it quits. I changed my mind when Pastor Keller referenced the book in one of his sermons on suffering (which included him spoiling ...more
Mckenna Mathews
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Hands down the best Christian novel I have ever read. Elliot's brutal honesty is what makes the book so real, so true. She is not afraid of being criticized for her work, which she is, but is bold in the messages she shares in writing this book. Everyone should read this remarkable book!
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Beautiful story that strips the glamor off of the inflated views we too often cherish of a missionary calling and enables us to see the true beauty of simple trust and obedience.
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
Any one who has ever determined to follow God and do great things for Him and ended up with the unexpected will understand why Elisabeth Elliot wrote this book.
Rebekah Tooley
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I loved this book! My favourite parts are when she is learning and using Quichua words. A must read for all!
Jeff Danhauer
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book. Elisabeth Elliot's only novel. She explodes the 'cookie cutter, slide-show presentation' image of long term missions with an undoubtably more nuanced and realistic view of a young woman's journey into missions.
No Graven Image is set in Ecuador. It's narrated by an American missionary--a single woman--named Margaret. Ecuador is her first placement, and, it is without a doubt where she feels called by God to serve. She hopes to learn the language--Quichua--and eventually translate the Bible into the native language. She has learned Spanish. She's seeking someone who speaks Spanish and Quichua. About a third of the way through the novel, she meets Pedro. There are some barriers to their friendship--langu ...more
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I was really excited about reading this book, since Elizabeth Elliot is a very well known Christian, and the description sounded like a book I'd enjoy. My only fear was that since Elizabeth mainly writes non-fiction which doesn't require descriptive words to help you form an image in your mind, that the story wouldn't be descriptive and would leave all the imaging to your brain, but it didn't! I was very pleased with how it was written and it definitely went over my expectations!

Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Definitely not the typical missionary story and that is a good thing (I think). Elliot uses a fictional story to portray the inner and external struggles a young missionary faces as she seeks to "reach" the Quichua Indians in Equador. Worthy to be read by young (and old) missionaries and those tempted to place those same missionaries on the proverbial pedestal.

Here are a couple of excerpts to give you an idea

"My life went on alongside the life of the Quichuas. I do not say with theirs for the tw
This is the story of a young missionary on her first mission to Ecuador. Her goal is to build relationships with the native Ecuadoreans, learn Quechua and translate the bible into Quechua. Your view of her is likely to be colored greatly by your view of western missionaries in third-world countries. Some might see her as privileged and condescending. I saw her more as naive and culturally insensitive, but earnest and caring.

She grapples with cultural difference and with her lack of confidence o
May 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
I read this book quite some time ago and decided to read it again. Elisabeth Elliot can not only write great inspiring non-fiction but a compelling fiction (novel) story as well! It is the story of a young missionary woman, Margaret Sparhawk as she goes to minister to the Indians of Ecuador. She is challenged with how she should best minister to the people and how to go about saving their souls. It doesn't have a neat tidy ending and leaves you wondering what really did happen. Instead it challe ...more
Mar 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Not greatly written, but does cause you to think about motivations for "serving Christ." I know I was humbled after reading this book. I like this quote:

"I find that I can no longer arrange my life in an orderly succession of projects with realizable goals and demonstrable effects. I cannot designate this activity as "useful" and that one as "useless," for often the categories are reversed and even more often I am at a loss to apply either label, for the wok, in the end, as well as the labeling,
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: missions, fiction, faith
I visited a dear friend's house today--she is studying language for the year, and then will be going to Kalimantan. She is house sitting for a homeschooling family that has an AMAZING library that I can borrow from. What a great blessing to find another cache of books--this one among them! I left my friend's company with a joy-filled heart--great friendship, good books, she gave me a neat scripture gift, and chocolate--all of my favorite things! Praise the Lord.

This book had a different view of
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was more than an account of a young woman's journey to a new country and culture and her willing adaptations to them. This was also an open, honest account of her journey in "Christianity".
Quote from the book: "I am with thee," He had said. With me in this?...And does He now, I asked myself there at the graveside, ask me to worship Him?

What a challenge to me, to see God Almighty from a different perspective and try to grasp what He wants me to know of Him. Even in novels, God speaks.
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
A story of a young woman that goes to Central America to minister to a tribe of Indians. She is full of excitement and anticipation of what God will do. She soons finds out our expectations are never the same of what reality is. This story is very simplestic of the Gospel and the work of the Lord. I was very drawn to the simplicity of the message. Margaret comes to realize that in her shortcomings, she accepts what she is capable of. The old cliche, she trusts God because that is all that she ca ...more
Joanne Gilchrist
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts slow and left me wondering why Elliot even wrote it. However, it is the kind of book that marinates in the soul and has some extremely profound insights. After reading the book, I found I could apply principles from it to my current situation in life and that has been both eye-opening and extremely helpful. One that I found particularly relevant was the subtle but profound insight that challenged the status quo of missionaries of the day. I absolutely love it and will be keeping ...more
Anna Connelly
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this well-written piece of Christian fiction. Unlike many Christian novels, this book does not promote clichés and sentiment. It seeks to expand the reader's view of God instead of trying to package Him up in a tidy box. I appreciated and admired the thoughtfulness and honesty of Elisabeth Elliot's writing.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
A friend lent this to me some time ago. Having been on the mission field with my husband for a time, I related very well. I just purchased it to read again and to have it in our library. If you enjoy descriptive writing and a deep look at the faith from the eyes of one who has suffered unbearable sorrow in this life, you will enjoy this book.
Nicholas Maulucci
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
a sort of autobiographical historical novel by Elisabeth Elliott. well-written. not provocative and only interesting because we, too, are missionaries. no resolution at end of book.just sort of ends.
Heather Hart
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Life, even when you are a Christian missionary, is not easily tied up with a neat little bow. There are no guaranteed happy endings. But there is hope. Elliot is honest about the mystery & difficulty of life and I found this story compelling.
Shelby Stafford
Sep 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Good book. It really showed how a missionary's work is idealized. At the end, all the loose ends weren't really tied together
Fiona H.
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked this novel about a 'beginning' missionary. It posed some interesting questions about mission and evangelism.
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Wow! What a surprise.
Jennifer Bowers
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This missionary novel exposes the well-meaning mistakes many of us make in our efforts to minister cross-culturally. It's uncomfortably true-to-life.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Challenging book. Don't expect a feel good story but it will be thought provoking.
Virginia Knowles
This was the book that impacted me the most when I was in college. It is rather unsettling and certainly changed my paradigm of what to expect in the Christian life.
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From the Author's Web Site: My parents were missionaries in Belgium where I was born. When I was a few months old, we came to the U.S. and lived in Germantown, not far from Philadelphia, where my father became an editor of the Sunday School Times. Some of my contemporaries may remember the publication which was used by hundreds of churches for their weekly unified Sunday School teaching materials. ...more
“A few clear pronouncements on one side and a few honest questions on the other had, in a matter of minutes, shown me that life was not going to be as simple, ever again, as I had thought.” 1 likes
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