A Great Catholic Novel for Adults

Of course every now and then, a homeschool mother needs a good book of her own to read, and so I want to share one book I recently enjoyed.
Quite often my thoughts are so busy, I find it difficult to sit down and concentrate on a novel. I never used to be like this. Unless the story is gripping, my mind wanders away: There are so many other interesting things to think about! But Rumer Godden’s novel, In This House of Brede certainly held my attention. 
I’d heard of the movie version, and even bought the DVD, but I didn’t want to watch it until I’d read the book.  I always like to read books versions first. Am I strange? Does anyone else like to do this?
I discovered the book was available from The Book Depository so I ordered my copy and waited for its arrival with anticipation. Here’s the book description from The Book Depository website:
“A novel of sensitive dedication.” –“The Atlantic Monthly””Rumer Godden deals precisely with the theme of the religious life . . . as representing ‘the heart of holiness of the Church.’ It is at once a life of great peace and often equally intense struggle.” –“America” magazine This extraordinarily sensitive and insightful portrait of religious life centers on Philippa Talbot, a highly successful professional woman who leaves her life among the London elite to join a cloistered Benedictine community. In this gripping narrative of the crises surrounding the ancient Brede abbey, Rumer Godden penetrates to the mysterious, inner heart of a religious community–a place of complexity and conflict, as well as joy and love. It is a place where Philippa, to her own surprise and her friends’ astonishment, finds her life by losing it.
I was especially interested in the setting of the book, the Benedictine Abbey, as our eldest daughter spent two years with the Benedictines, and I know a little about the life of these contemplative nuns. The book, however would appeal to everyone, not just readers interested in the religious life. It contains truths we all seek. I think we can all identify with its themes.
The characters are all so very interesting. Although the main characters are nuns, they are dealing with the same issues as lay people: They have their virtues but also their faults; they strive for holiness, they sometimes fall, they pick themselves up, they have their moments of success and of joy; they experience sorrow and love; they have to live and work together which is not always easy…
I am not going to tell you anything about the actual plot. I’ll let you discover that for yourself. 
I hope you’re thinking, “That sounds a wonderful read. I must find a copy!”
Now that I’ve finished the book, I must get around to watching the DVD version. I just looked at the Amazon site and they are advertising the DVD for $59.99 which seems enormously expensive. If you’re in Australia though, The Mustard Seed Bookshop has copies for only $9.95.
If you do read the book, let me know what you think. Perhaps you might end up sharing it with your older teens.
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  1. Reply

    I find it difficult to sit down to a novel, too – there always seems so much to do. This sounds like an interesting story, though, Sue. I'll put it on my must-read list for when I get some more time for reading. Thanks for sharing:-)

    1. Reply


      Next time we swap a pile of books, I will add my copy of "In This House of Brede" to the ones I am lending you. You will like it!

  2. Reply


    Sounded interesting so when I went to the library today I had a look and found it. Just started reading it this evening. Enjoyed the first part especially the pub stop on the way to the abbey. 🙂

    1. Reply


      I'm so pleased you were able to find a copy so easily. Our library has a few Rumer Godden books out the back in the stacks, but not this one.

      The pub stop on the way to the abbey? Yes, I remember!

      I'm sure you will enjoy this novel but do let me know what you think!

  3. Reply


    I have finished! Longer and harder to read than all the teenage reading I'm used to.

    I enjoyed it, but there are some issues that would need to be explained to Therese if she is to read it. An interesting look at life in an abbey.

    1. Reply


      I'm sure you are right about having to explain certain issues to teenage readers. I didn't read this book with the thought of sharing it with our girls so I didn't pay that kind of attention to the story. It was only when I was writing the post I wondered if it could be shared with older teens. I guess I'd need to flip through the book again to see what you mean. I think I will do this. Or we can discuss it next time we get together!

      btw, it was great catching up with you last weekend. "The Mass in Slow Motion" has arrived and so has "Sun Faster, Sun Slower". Still waiting for the Chronicles series though.

      God bless!

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