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Such Is My Beloved Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1977
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From the Inside Flap
One of the great novels of the 1930s, Such Is My Beloved recounts the tragic story of two down-and-out prostitutes and the young priest who aspires to redeem their lives. The novel is at once a compassionate portrait of innocence and idealism, and an emphatic condemnation of a society where the lines between good and evil are essentially blurred.
Such Is My Beloved is widely considered to be Morley Callaghan?s finest novel.
About the Author
Morley Callaghan’s literary circle included Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Joyce. In a career spanning more than six decades, he published sixteen novels and more than one hundred works of short fiction.
From the eBook edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
In this novel written and set in the 1930s, in the midst of the Depression, an earnest young priest, Father Dowling, focuses his charitable work on two neighborhood streetwalkers, Midge and Ronnie. He hopes that by befriending them, spending time with them, and helping with their material needs, he can save them from lives of destitution, debasement and sin. If material assistance fails to mitigate the travails of their earthly existence, Father Dowling hopes his prayers and personal suffering will save their souls.
Church and society can’t wholly come to accept that Father Dowling’s regard for these fallen women might be Christ-like, and worry that he will cause scandal. Father Dowling sacrifices everything for these two women--even the money he saves off to send to his mother and brother who helped him through seminary, a decision that makes us, too, question his judgement. His earnestness and single-mindedness in helping these young women blind him from seeing the possibility that he just might make things even worse for them, and that, in fact, they, too bear some culpability for their lives. Despite Father Dowling’s questionable actions, it is the rich and powerful who ultimately suffer the reader’s disdain for their lack of compassion and obsession with social status.
Although Father Dowling’s appeals for charity in the case of Midge and Ronnie can’t pierce the bourgeois armor of his well-heeled parishioners, it is evident that his profound and chaste love of the streetwalkers ultimately does affect the good but all-too-political bishop who seeks to punish him. There is some thin hope that the priest’s seemingly futile work has had some redemptive value for the bishop’s troubled conscience.
Morley Callaghan’s style of writing is unpretentious and spare. In some ways the novel anticipates film noir of the 40s and 50s. It is in no way pious; this is not a “religious story” in that sense. One would also be mistaken to assume the naïvete of the characters on the basis of the simplicity of the style. Father Dowling, for instance, continually surprises the reader by revealing that he understands the situation better than he lets on.
Aside from being a well-crafted story, “Such is My Beloved” is both a testament to faith and trenchant criticism of the injustices of laissez-faire and the misguided use of Church authority. Moreover, the novel challenges us to love as deeply and profoundly as does Father Dowling, even if in so doing we should become uneasy and uncomfortable--perhaps especially then.
The novel I found took a while to work up. The lead charactor of the Catholic Priest was a positive one for me as I saw him as a figure who merely wanted to help people. He was altruistic to the core and really believed in what he was doing. In the end we find that his high state of conviction had gotten him into deep trouble with the people he was trying to help as well as the institution which he represented to the very core of its teachings.
I don't think this book was written to be criticism towards the Catholic Church or even to higher classes. The lawyer friend in the book was a very likable fellow and is balanced to the two prostitutes. I do however believe that this book is commenting on the small line between passion and obsession. MOst of the women in my class felt that the main charactor got what he had coming as he seemed a stalker like figure who took things too far. I interpreted it as a tragedy because we see the core of this mans beliefs and see what he is trying to do- merely to help others. This is not worong and he placed much effort inbto this plight. Total tragedy.
Read the book anyways. It is good stuff and maybe respond to this entry and tell me what you think. I have also heard some criticism on sexual uundertones. I don't really think that this was prevalent, but if that's what it takes you to get you to read this, well, I guess it has done the trick.
I want to add how beliebvable the settings are for this. It takes place in Montreal, but I think it is believable to be any city in Canada. I live in Calgary myself and see the Cecil tavern and hotel being the setting, or if you are in Medicine Hat, I think the Sin Bin relates. Try reading this book with that in mind.