In this House of Brede Review

In this House of Brede by Rumer Godden is a religious fiction novel of the highest quality. Set in the 1950s, it seems as if we will be following Philippa Talbot, a successful woman in business, incredible and suddenly shocking decision to join the monastic house of Brede as a Benedictine nun for the rest of her life. My thoughts of Philippa being the main character in the novel is quickly proven false as the story slowly progresses with dozens of other characters that each take center stage at different parts of the book. While a work of fiction, the daily life of a Benedictine nun is laid out for the readers to digest based on the extensive research of the author.

“Not turned to go, turned to come.”

Philippa Talbot

The story brings up a lot of different topics that nuns in a cloister can go through such as faith, desires, life and death, rituals, friendship, jealousy, envy and love. Reading this novel is quite eye-opening as many people such as myself have assumptions on how life can be like living in a sequestered abbey. However, they have their own challenges just like every other person or organization in order for the house to be kept in tip-top shape. It can also highlight just how challenging it can be to dedicate one self fully over to a higher spiritual being.

“The nun you see rapt away in church isn’t likely to be the holiest. The holiest one is probably the one you would never notice because she is simply doing her duty.”

Dame Ursula

The author employs a lot of mini and quick flashback scenes throughout the book. I’d consider In this House of Brede to be fairly dialogue heavy, and the way the author is able to seamlessly and fluidly transition between the past and the present is amazing. It may take some time getting used to the format, but once you do, the storytelling feels that much more smoother.

“You can come to the telephone?” “Of course. Nuns are not antiques, you know.”

Dame Philippa

Notch this novel up as a big winner. I made it a reading goal of mine to read more religious fiction novels in the year 2024 and so far, In this House of Brede is one of the more peaceful and calming one’s I’ve completed. I likely won’t find another one like it any time soon.

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