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In This House of Brede Paperback – February 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

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 House of Brede was the basis of a 1975 made-for-television film starring Diana Rigg.
 

From the Back Cover

“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.
 

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Product Details

  • Series: Loyola Classics
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Loyola Classics; Reissue edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0829421289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0829421286
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Constant Librarian on January 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
If we lived in the disutopia described in Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451, this would be the book I would choose to memorize. Any sane person might ask: "Why would someone want to memorize lengthy fiction about cloistered nuns?" Answer: "Because the characters are so real and the writing is so luminous."

The main character is Phillipa Talbot, a 40-ish successful career woman who enters an English Benedictine monestary. Author Rumer Godden skillfully weaves several plot lines that tell Phillipa's story as well as the stories of many of the other nuns. Sister Cecily the musician, learned Dame Agnes who becomes Phillipa's bete noir, tragic, silly exaggerated Dame Veronica, a victim of the rigid British caste system, and Dame Catherine who is elected Abbess. The writing is so beautiful--there is one description of the seasons of the year that never fails to move me no matter how often I read the book. In addition, the book contains some of the most fascinating "shop talk" you'll ever read.

Godden is a master story-teller, and even if the book contains a jarring Deus ex Machina solution to a serious problem, in the context of monastic life, it is believable.
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64 of 64 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed Rumer Godden's books on many levels for years. As an Anglophile of long standing, I love the "Britishness" of the culture and people of which she wrote. I've also loved the quiet intelligence of her books, which never talk down to their readers. Recently, after dealing with the last illness and death of my mother, I have found in Godden's writings on faith comfort and support. In This House of Brede is her strongest and most complex work, and one I have found particularly valuable during the last few months.

Brede Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the south of England. Its nuns are an enclosed community who devote themselves to constant prayer and worship. The nuns are not saints but very human characters who struggle with pain, temptation, and sundry other challenges: physical, mental, and spiritual. It is comforting to read of their battles and of the faith which sustains them.

Godden wrote beautiful, thoughtful, prose, and in any of her books you will encounter engaging and attractive characters. In This House of Brede is her masterpiece.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By UCLAgirl on June 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book shows the rich and full life that was to be had in an abbey. Godden portrays the nuns as human and individual beneath the uniform guise of the habit. Religious devotion is depicted with respect and warmth--a difficult combination, and a rare and welcome perspective in this day and age. Each time I've read it, I've found the book moving and thought-provoking.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Dawn LaValle on March 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was given this book a week ago by a professor of mine, and read it with more relish than any book in a long time. A truly lovely book! I have spent a fair amount of time at monasteries and convents, and my sister, about Sister Cecily's age, 24 (but in character much more like Sister Hillary), is a nun in a very traditional community. Godden captures both the realism and the beauty of the consecrated life.

I have two responses after reading this book. The first is to become a cloistered Benedictine nun (!), and the second is to give this book to everyone I know to help them understand the reality of life in a convent. Most people cannot begin to fathom why anyone would chose such a life, and more than one person told my sister that they thought she was wasting her life by entering a convent. In This House of Brede provides a beautiful apology for the importance of "being" over "doing".

Oh yes, I also had a third response. Reading the book caused in me such a great desire to sing Gregorian Chant that I pulled down my Gradual Triplex and sang for the next hour or so! And now too, as I write this, I am listening to the Benedictine Sisters of Regina Laudis chanting the Office.

This is a wonderful book to read for Lent, and I've found it encouraging both my prayer and my work. My biggest dilemma is deciding to whom to give my copy now that I'm finished!
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Personally, as a Benedictine Associate, the "life" of any religious is enriched through the journeying towards God in a communal atmostphere.
Since this book was written prior to the Vatican II Reformation, it shows the unique structure of the abbey hierarchy and depth with which the heart yearns for closeness to God through the daily Divine Office of Prayer, hard work, communal friendships and the strict observance of the Grand Silence and its true purpose. This book unlike any other, gives readers that rare glimpse at how difficult cloistered religious life can be and the constant rigors, tests,and hardships that can exist as we see with the protagonist "Phillipa" . She entered the convent "late" in life after she converted to Catholicism, renounced her powerful career, peers, high-bred social standing out of her heart's desire for God.
Even after all these years, this book is a true find for anyone leaning towards religious life. At the center of the story, we see the on-going personal challenges and growth of the women of Brede Abbey who are on the "journey" in their relationship with God and one another.
Who could compare with the story's lady Abbess, the indefatigable Dame Hester Cunningham Proctor? Who could not feel compasion for the little elderly nun hugging the newest Abbess who was crying? Who wouldn't love to hear the bells chiming the time of day that calls one to God for prayer? Who hasn't suffered in the night with painful memories that tear at the heart over and over?
Who wouldn't rejoice when one's sister, daughter, neice or friend is called to the "life"? This "life" is not chosen , rather a person is chosen for the "life". There is a great difference.
Ms.
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