Saturday, October 23, 2010

Exiles: A Novel - Book Review

About the book
In December 1875 the steamship Deutschland left Bremen, Germany, bound for America. On board were five nuns, exiled by a government ban on religious orders, hoping to begin their lives anew in Missouri. Their journey would end when the Deutschland ran aground at the mouth of the Thames and all five drowned. Ron Hansen tells their harrowing story, but also that of the poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, and how the shipwreck moved him to write a grand poem, a reveletory work read throughout the world today. Combining a thrilling tragedy at sea with the seeming shipwreck of Hopkins's own life, "Hansen brilliantly, if soberly, weaves two interrelated storylines into a riveting novel" (booklist)

My Review

Exiles: A Novel surprised me! Not only is this book a work of art but can be read and enjoyed by all reading levels. While I did find myself not understanding everything that was referred to, the story itself drew me in and kept me in the raging waters of this tale.

As you learn more and more about each central character you find yourself more invested in their future. Sister Aurea eventually held the biggest place in my heart. Her childlike personality and joyful soul reaches out from the pages. Each of the 5 nuns from the story will capture your attention and create an urgency that will keep you up reading well past bedtime. The fact that you already know the ending will not stop you from wanting to learn each and every piece of information that you can about these Exiles.

Hansen creates a relatable past for each of the central characters that peeks into the details of their lives before and after they chose their vocations. Sister Norberta stands out as a woman we would all do well to learn from. Her strength and loyalty are an excellent example for all.

I enjoyed following Father Hopkins through his journey and related to him as being the only Catholic in his immediate family (though he is much smarter than I!) Hopkins ventures from place to place sharing his unique viewpoint as he goes. I would recommend this book to any follower of Christ as it shows the strength of conviction even when there is no happy ending. The reality of this story goes far beyond the tale of a shipwreck. It follows the realistic struggle that each of us face in everyday life. Struggles with pride and loneliness and a love for the Father that though we can never get "right" will be our savior in the end.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of Exiles: A Novel for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Oplatki and Advent Calendars. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

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