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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"I loved Mr. Darcy far more than any of my own husbands."  ~ Rumor Godden

It's  well known that  Rumur Godden is pretty much my all time favourite author ~ & there is a reason for this; She makes the ordinary fascinating.  I worked my way through her children's stories as a child, her short stories as a teen & gradually found my feet amongst her adult novels before I was done with high school. 

It was only much latter, long after I had read Black Narcissus & In this House of Brede that I waded through her biography & read her father's quote that went, if I remember correctly, something along the lines of: You don't want to write a book about nuns; no~one will read it.

Well, Godden not only wrote one book about nuns; she wrote several ~ & people read them!
Black Narcissus was the first & it was made into a fairly memorable movie with Deborah Kerr & Jean Simmons. It is not my favourite, mostly because Godden wrote it as an unbeliever & it lacks that deep sense of spirituality that her latter books have.  My favourite is the one that has stood the test of time & endured unscathed: In this House of Brede; the story of 3 very different women pursuing life as contemplative Benedictine nuns. Don't yawn.
Now one of the reasons I really like Godden is that she almost never writes her books in sequential order.  They do tend to hop all over the place which is like sweet ambrosia to me. I have tried to explain to my highly sequential children that books, like history, can be pieced together like a jig~saw; it is not necessary to have all the pieces in order before one starts.  One can begin anywhere & slot  the pieces in place as one finds them ~ an attitude that simply horrifies Liddy.  But what about suspense? she is prone to wail.  Well, what about it? See I am far more interested in character than I am in plot & happily ignore all sorts of inconsistencies in plot so long as the character development makes sense.  Screw up a character & believe me not only will I notice, I'll complain, usually long & loud!

If I had been born Catholic I might have chosen such a life with it's round of prayer & worship.  Religion wasn't always a dirty word in the media & I am of that era that fell in love with Audrey Hepburn playing Kathryn Hulme in the Nun's Story ~ do you remember that one?  An oldie but a goodie.  Or Spencer Tracey as Father Flanagan in Boy's Town Or Bing Crosby in Bells of St Mary's...or even Halyey Mills in the Trouble with Angels. Against these I had Godden's books, with her footnotes, indexes & bibliographies to explain all the odd things in Catholicism I didn't understand. What's more she spoke about religion in a sane & reasonable way ~ which is hardly surprising from a long time agnostic raised in the religious hot bed of diverse Indian religious ideas. As a homeschooler I find it fascinating that she never set foot in a school until she was about 12 ~ & her home education was just a tad erratic. Here you can listen to her speak about the very last book she wrote at the end of a long & eventful life that survived both world wars.  If you have never read one of her books you have missed an inestimable pleasure.  She is an extraordinary craftsman, a formidable storyteller & a very unique lady.


seekingmyLord said...

I do remember them all and they did affect me deeply, always made me feel like I had not sacrificed enough in my own lifestyle.

There is one thing that can be said good, along with much bad, is that the one denomination that kept Christianity alive when it would nearly die out in places or times was the Catholic church and that originally many of its rituals and the organization mirrored the Jewish religion in which Jesus was raised. Unfortunately, also like the Hebrews of the OT, it had this ironic practice of compromising itself by blending in pagan rituals in its eagerness to attract converts while it could not resist the attempt to dominate entire kingdoms and countries without compromise or tolerance to any other religion, particularly another Christian denomination. The Catholic church certainly made its presence known throughout history, but it is in those personal stories, like the ones you have mentioned and others coming to my mind, that bring out the beauty of that personal faith we all admire and desire, that faith that is not bound by the lines drawn between the all comes back to the relationship. And, if a person needs whatever the Catholic church provides in ritual and visual helps to encourage the individual develop that relationship, then it will continue with my blessing.

Julie said...

I was truly bereft when I turned the last page of In This House of Brede. Loved it. Have you read one of her children's books The Old Woman Who Lived In A Vinegar Bottle? Wonderful as well....

Jo said...

I haven't read these or heard of the author, must check it out. I would have made a terrible nun, not good at sitting still for very long and I like to chat to much!!