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North of Hope (Loyola Classics) Paperback – March 1, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Father Frank Healy returns to his hometown parish and encounters a former schoolmate: the beautiful, thrice-married Libby Girard. "Although somewhat slow-going until the halfway mark, this increasingly evocative novel then picks up speed and acquires depth, spinning out an alcohol-soused tale of heartbreak, strained faith and sordid intrigue," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Plagued by a dubious sense of vocation, Father Frank Healy requests reassignment to his hometown parish and the nearby Ojibway reservation church. Here he encounters Libby Pearsall, the passionate woman whom he has silently loved since childhood, and she and her troubled daughter soon become his greatest personal and pastoral challenge. Hassler's narrative style and implied values are old-fashioned but solid. He acknowledges evil and portrays it convincingly in the form of drug-dealing, greed, and murder, but he also displays the power of loving kindness. Some humorous scenes of parish life recall the delightful stories of J.F. Powers, and, like Powers, Hassler treats Roman Catholic concerns in such a way that their appeal is truly catholic.
- Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Loyola Classics
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Loyola Classics (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0829423575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0829423570
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you enjoy books with strongly-developed characters, then "North of Hope" is for you. It begins with Frank Healy, a young man with an aspiration to the priesthood and living in Minnesota. He falls in love with Libby Girard, a beautiful local girl. Unfortunately, Libby marries a local bully, Vernon, the guy who got her pregnant. Frank, upon learning that his mother's dying words were "I want Frank to be a priest," decides to enter the seminary. A couple of years into his formation, Libby visits Frank and wants him to leave the seminary and marry her. Frank refuses, and as Libby sadly drives away, Frank pleads to God to keep her out of his life.

Twenty years later, when the school Frank had been teaching at since his ordination closes down, Frank experiences a vocational crisis. He requests a transfer to his hometown parish, which is granted. With a twist of divine fate, Frank encounters Libby once again in the local Objiway Reservation's medical facility. The remainder of the book consists of Frank struggling to find a relationship with Libby that is loving yet not romantic, and helping Libby's troubled daughter Verna. Along the way we encounter characters such as Libby's drug-dealing husband, the sleazy Judge Bigelow, and the overprotective Eunice Pfeiffer.

North of Hope is one of those rare novels that stays with you long after you've finished it. The final resolution is effective, though probably not what many readers will want. Hassler could have used the book to uncritically praise or rant against priestly celibacy, but he doesn't; he trusts the readers to make their own decisions. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Jon Hassler is a writer of serious fiction, whose narratives are nonetheless plainspoken and straightforward. He does a masterful job of capturing the melancholy of a midwestern winter, of lives permanently mired in the permafrost. He sets a tone similar to Annie Proulx, difficult yet absorbing. Not to be read at the beach on a hot summer day, but curled up under a comforter on a bleak December night.
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By A Customer on November 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book several years ago when it was first published and have not been able to get it out of my mind. It is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books I have ever read; one comes away with the sad realization that the characters are, indeed, north of hope. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading of the human condition; the book is quite melancholy, but not depressing. Mr. Hassler has a rare gift.
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By A Customer on February 4, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my favorite of the four Jon Hassler novels I have read so far. As is usual with Mr. Hassler's novels, the characters are well-drawn, believable, and you get involved with them. The dialogue is realistic and the setting is well-developed. And the book was really hard to put down as I kept wanting to know what would happen next. But the thing that impressed me most was the way at author deals with the problems faced by the characters. There is no sugar-coating here, just lots of reality. I wouldn't say that the book is depressing. There is optimism throughout. I can also recommend other books by Mr. Hassler: The Love Hunter, Simon's Night, and Grand Opening, in that order.
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Format: Paperback
I've read all of Hassler's novels, and I consider this his best. He captures the search for one's soul as well as any author I've read. Frank Healey's character is a great example of delving into one's innermost soul-searching; and his conclusion (realistically) is ambiguous. It leaves the reader pondering this for weeks after putting the book down. A lover of great fiction should not miss this one.
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Hassler's thick novel has conventional characters populating predictable predicaments (middle aged priest doubting his vocation, drinking too much, meets his childhood sweetheart once again...will he, won't he succumb etc). Still...there is a "life as it is" quality that kept me going to the end despite my better judgment. Hassler is skilled at capturing the sort of good, sort of rotten qualities that most of us exhibit stumbling our way through. It's impossible to really hate any of his characters...but it's hard to love them either. Father Frank's faith is modern American Catholicism: almost non-denominational and primarily a matter of compassion and shared weakness with his flock and intimates. His priestly celibacy seemed more a matter of habit and contingent feeling rather than a solemn promise made to God. It was hard for me to discern any real chemistry between Father Frank and his youthful flame, now a forty-year old depressive.
Still, it's one of those novels I thought about during busy days. It waited, fat and friendly, at my bedside table. So I succumbed to its 670 pages, some of which were gems, others pieces of coal. On the third hand, I don't think I'll revisit northern Minn. anytime soon.
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By A Customer on July 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a wonderful book. The writing is beautiful, the characters are memorable, the themes are universal. I discovered Hassler while browsing ... about a year ago, and I'm glad I did! I loved his recent novels set in academia ("Rookery Blues" and "The Dean's List"). His earlier "North of Hope" is more serious and melancholy than those, but in many ways better. As one of the reviewers quoted on the cover says, his writing appears effortless. I will never tire of reading this author's work.
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