In This House of Brede

by Rumer Godden

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Goodreads friend (shout out to Barb!) said about Rumer Godden that she never wrote the same book twice.

I very much agree with this sentiment! Godden is a gifted writer with a fantastic imagination, who seems to go where the story takes her.

So I was expecting this to be Phillipa’s Story, a middle aged career woman who found a vocation &, after giving away all her possessions, joins a Benedictine monastery.

But this story is much more than that and details the lives and often very human frailties of the nuns who live within the cloistered walls.

If the solution to the monastery’s financial crisis seems a little too miraculous, some other episodes had a heart rending realism. I certainly cried buckets when it was revealed how Dame Phillipa’s little son had died. Godden really knows how to touch the heart.

Another weakness for me was that Sister Cecily seemed to be blamed for one nun’s infatuation with with her. Dame Maura was sent away, but to my modern, non religious eyes, I don’t think either woman should be blamed. A very courageous tackling of the subject I thought.

Finally, this is a book that cries out for a dead tree reading. With so much to absorb, reading on my phone screen was very hard.

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