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Eminence Hardcover – May, 1998
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Morris West, author of the bestselling novel The Shoes of the Fisherman, manages in many of his books to balance a steadfast Catholic faith with a razor-keen perception of the flaws of the Church. Eminence begins with Monsignor Jorge Novak's 1995 admonishment of the Church's "complicities [in respect of] illegal repression" in Argentina and a short citation from William Pitt (1770): "Where law ends, tyranny begins." West uses these political statements as the launching point for his very personal story of Cardinal Luca Rossini. Luca is a compelling character--a haunted man who offers the world a stern visage to cover a deeply troubled soul. As a young and outspoken priest he was brutally tortured in an Argentine military prison and was then nursed to health by the beautiful Isabel, wife of an Argentine diplomat. To cover the scandal of his unacknowledged treatment, he was recalled to Rome and exiled to the Vatican. As the novel begins, Rossini is now the confidante of the reigning pope. He is admired and feared by his colleagues, for Rossini (like his creator) understands the Church, speaks frankly, and knows how to present his ancient faith to the late-20th-century media. When the pope becomes gravely ill and a successor must be chosen, Rossini takes a central role in the process. In the midst of the political intrigue that surrounds the selection of a new pope, however, Isabel arrives in Rome--along with Luca's daughter. Luca must suddenly confront old and painful memories of Argentina and the scandalous passion of his long-suspended love affair.
Eminence is a brisk thriller and simultaneously a very relevant examination of the byzantine Vatican City; but the ultimate pleasure of the book, as with the best of West's writings, derives from his complex and very human portrait of a modern man of the cloth. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Cardinal Luca Rossini, hero of this intriguing novel of papal succession, is a Vatican gadfly who approaches his duties with the cool efficiency of a corporate executive. Rossini lost his faith during the 1970s when, as a young priest in Argentina, he was tortured by the military. After a brief affair with his rescuer and nurse, brave Isabel Ortega, Rossini was recalled to Rome, where he came under the patronage of the pope, despite his opposition to the pontiff's conservative policies. Now the pope has died and his secret diaries, which betray doubts about his stringent tenets, are being leaked to the media. Rossini is suddenly thrust into the eye of the doctrinal hurricane as an influential conclave voter, a proponent of liberalization and a surprisingly strong papal candidate. Meanwhile Rossini has come to doubt not only his faith but also his vocation. To complicate matters further, Isabel arrives in Rome with shocking revelations of her own. With half a century's writing experience under his belt, West (The Shoes of the Fisherman; The Lovers; etc.) wrestles courageously with a bloated plot, though he occasionally lapses into sentimentality during scenes between the former lovers. Overall, he succeeds in balancing contemporary Vatican intrigue and details (cellular phones ring within the folds of medieval vestments) with Rossini's myriad political, spiritual and personal crises. It is the Cardinal who holds the story together, emerging as a passionate, insightful and strong-willed character in this very temporal exploration of the church today. Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Eminence, one of his last novels, we have a celebration of all of his skills in a very insightful tale of both the struggle for integrity and the power of the gift of love to heal the wounds and give courage in the midst of mystery.His characters are vivid, and his pace is both engaging and intriguing. West's knowledge of the times, both in the geo-polity of Argentina in the late 1980's and early 90's, as well as the dynamics within the Church at the time, was dead-on. Without trying to defend the sins of anyone involved in the story, he invites the reader to attempt to understand the frailties of the human condition and the power of faith.
Eminence is a great read and a fitting legacy of a master story-teller.