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An epic novel set in the rugged interior of British Columbia, the first volume of a trilogy which traces the lives of four generations of a family of exiles. Beginning in 1900, and concluding with the climactic events leading up to the Millennium, the series follows Anne and Stephen Delaney and their descendants as they live through the tumultuous events of this century. A An epic novel set in the rugged interior of British Columbia, the first volume of a trilogy which traces the lives of four generations of a family of exiles. Beginning in 1900, and concluding with the climactic events leading up to the Millennium, the series follows Anne and Stephen Delaney and their descendants as they live through the tumultuous events of this century. Anne is a highly educated Englishwoman who arrives in British Columbia at the end of the First World War. Raised in a family of spiritualists and Fabian socialists, she has fled civilization in search of adventure. She meets and eventually marries a trapper-homesteader, an Irish immigrant who is fleeing the "troubles" in his own violent past. This is a story about the gradual movement of souls from despair and unbelief to faith, hope, and love, about the psychology of perception, and about the ultimate questions of life, death and the mystery of being. Interwoven with scenes from Ireland, England, Poland, Russia, and Belgium during the War, Strangers and Sojourners is a tale of the extraordinary hidden within the ordinary. It is about courage and fear, and the triumph of the human spirit.


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An epic novel set in the rugged interior of British Columbia, the first volume of a trilogy which traces the lives of four generations of a family of exiles. Beginning in 1900, and concluding with the climactic events leading up to the Millennium, the series follows Anne and Stephen Delaney and their descendants as they live through the tumultuous events of this century. A An epic novel set in the rugged interior of British Columbia, the first volume of a trilogy which traces the lives of four generations of a family of exiles. Beginning in 1900, and concluding with the climactic events leading up to the Millennium, the series follows Anne and Stephen Delaney and their descendants as they live through the tumultuous events of this century. Anne is a highly educated Englishwoman who arrives in British Columbia at the end of the First World War. Raised in a family of spiritualists and Fabian socialists, she has fled civilization in search of adventure. She meets and eventually marries a trapper-homesteader, an Irish immigrant who is fleeing the "troubles" in his own violent past. This is a story about the gradual movement of souls from despair and unbelief to faith, hope, and love, about the psychology of perception, and about the ultimate questions of life, death and the mystery of being. Interwoven with scenes from Ireland, England, Poland, Russia, and Belgium during the War, Strangers and Sojourners is a tale of the extraordinary hidden within the ordinary. It is about courage and fear, and the triumph of the human spirit.

30 review for Strangers and Sojourners

  1. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    Began by listening to this on FORMED and while it was good, I soon knew it was a book I wanted to read for myself, so I bought a print copy. I do not read as many novels as I used to but a GRs friend here has turned me into a Michael D. O’Brien fan and so I decided to read the Children of the Last Days series, this being the first in it, and I LOVED it! The story’s central characters are Stephen and Anne, man and woman, Irish and English, fire and water, night and day, opposites yet inexplicably Began by listening to this on FORMED and while it was good, I soon knew it was a book I wanted to read for myself, so I bought a print copy. I do not read as many novels as I used to but a GRs friend here has turned me into a Michael D. O’Brien fan and so I decided to read the Children of the Last Days series, this being the first in it, and I LOVED it! The story’s central characters are Stephen and Anne, man and woman, Irish and English, fire and water, night and day, opposites yet inexplicably and irresistibly drawn to each other. As reader we know they are destined for each other as their first meeting is fireworks, their love passionate, and the relationship tumultuous. In my younger days, I raced through stories I loved. Now I linger over them as one does with a delicious piece of rich food, taking tiny nibbles if possible, savoring the sweetness and holding it in the mouth as long as it will stay. Often with this book I tried to set it down physically, but emotionally, spiritually and mentally I was still very much a part of the story, only wanting it to last as long as possible. As a few other reviewers have mentioned, this is a book best appreciated by mature readers as it deals with the natural fluctuations in long-term relationships. I try to imagine my daughters reading this and I expect they (for all their young maturity) could not appreciate this book so much yet as they are happily in the young golden days of their lives and marriages. This is not a disparaging nor bitter observation, but only the recognition that whoever marries and however elevated the relationship, it is always the union of two flawed human beings. Time has a way of revealing as well as forging (if we allow it) character or the lack thereof; such things cannot be fully understood until one has experienced them and even then (or now as in my case) it is an on-going process. Strangers and Sojourners follows Anne and Stephen and their small British Columbian town from pre-World War II through the 1960’s. We watch the couple raise a family, face tragedies, encounter unexpected joys and inevitably age. I found it to be an immensely comforting story, mysterious and mystical in places, but then the greatest mystery in the world is another human being and usually the one closest to us. O’Brien captures that aspect in the marriage of Stephen and Anne perfectly. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series, although I have to get it first.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachel M

    This is a book about thirst; the thirst for love, and then, inevitably, for God. Anne comes to the Canadian wilderness as a teacher in the early part of the century, determined to be an independent woman. She finds herself drawn to the reclusive Stephen Delaney, an Irish immigrant, but fights her attraction in pursuit of her "higher ideals." Predictably for everyone except Anne, she can't seem to deny her desire for human companionship, though greatly fearing the costs. Stephen introduces her t This is a book about thirst; the thirst for love, and then, inevitably, for God. Anne comes to the Canadian wilderness as a teacher in the early part of the century, determined to be an independent woman. She finds herself drawn to the reclusive Stephen Delaney, an Irish immigrant, but fights her attraction in pursuit of her "higher ideals." Predictably for everyone except Anne, she can't seem to deny her desire for human companionship, though greatly fearing the costs. Stephen introduces her to the Catholic faith, which Anne finds herself curious about from afar, while never truly coming to terms with. Her life and heart are in a continuous search for the truth, the deeper meaning, the reality which she is certain runs beneath her life. This book greatly impacted me several years ago and remains one of the most important I have ever read. Anne's journey of life and marriage is a revelation of God's continual wooing of her and her desire for God. O'Brien poignantly captures the changing dynamics of marriage - the infatuated, in-love of the early years, the cynical misunderstandings of middle age, and the patient acceptance of old age. Anne and Stephen are portrayed paradoxically as made for each other and terribly unsuited to one another at the same time. Anne and Stephen are in awe of each other and also impatient with each other, and yet, at every turn, whether it is a bountiful time in their marriage or a "drought season," there is a sense of the rightness of the seasons... there is a sense that the outright weaknesses of each partner are part of the perfection of the plan. My favorite quote: “’Thank you,’ he said. ‘For what are you thanking me?’ Never had she felt more vulnerable to the heat of bodies reflecting off each other, or to her own emptiness. An absence which Greek and manners would suddenly not fill. ‘Thank you for dancing with me, even though you don’t like me.' Possibly she did not hear. There were streaks of sweat running down the wrestler’s neck, and the sugary scent of moose hide and birch smoke came to her from his body. She found it difficult to compose a reply, and he had given up expecting one, when she said: ‘It isn’t that I dislike you.' ‘What is it, then, that makes us this way?' ‘I don’t know,’ she said simply, wishing to cry , or perhaps to leave any scenes of potential damage. ‘It could be the fragility of glass.’ ‘I’m sorry. I don’t understand. Glass?’ ‘Behind which we all hide.’ ‘Glass,’ he repeated, willing to learn. ‘There are those we encounter in life who possess the gift of reaching through our barriers. To touch.’ ‘And is there harm in that?’ he wondered, holding her imperceptibly tighter in the big hands. ‘No harm if we’re not shattered,’ she said. ‘But how would you know it’s safe if you don’t allow it to happen?’ ‘How can I allow it to happen if I don’t know it’s safe?’” –Chapter 6

  3. 5 out of 5

    John O'Brien

    I'm rating my father's novels here as a fan. But I think I'm going to decline writing a review for now, due to my kinship with the author. Suffice to say, I look forward to his books as much as anyone else, and find them deeply moving. I am not unaware of their flaws, but their strengths surpass them, and so abundantly, that I find them almost moot. I'm normally moved to the point of tears about 3-4 times per novel (If I find myself choked up only once, I tell him it's not his best work). He has I'm rating my father's novels here as a fan. But I think I'm going to decline writing a review for now, due to my kinship with the author. Suffice to say, I look forward to his books as much as anyone else, and find them deeply moving. I am not unaware of their flaws, but their strengths surpass them, and so abundantly, that I find them almost moot. I'm normally moved to the point of tears about 3-4 times per novel (If I find myself choked up only once, I tell him it's not his best work). He has a rare gift of penetrating deeply into spiritual truths, which is a reflection of the person he is -- an artist who has been refined in a furnace of faith, not unlike many of his characters. Strangers and Sojourners was my favourite until Island of the World came out in 2007. It takes place in a fictional town that is loosely based on events and family histories in Valemount, British Columbia. Its themes are universal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brandi Banadyga

    I have had more of a conversion of heart reading this novel than any spiritual reading I’ve done. I will definitely read it again, and almost want to start right now.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I am torn with this book. The book itself is very well written, but the story flows very slowly. The book covers the life of Anne Delaney, but skips large portions of time to cover what the author thinks are important events in her life. The book is comprised of a series of narratives and journal entries. There is nothing that drives one to press forward with the story and the ending is not very satisfactory. If it were not for the fact that the story is well written I may have given up on the b I am torn with this book. The book itself is very well written, but the story flows very slowly. The book covers the life of Anne Delaney, but skips large portions of time to cover what the author thinks are important events in her life. The book is comprised of a series of narratives and journal entries. There is nothing that drives one to press forward with the story and the ending is not very satisfactory. If it were not for the fact that the story is well written I may have given up on the book. There are good little nuggets of thought in this book, but those alone are not worth recommending this book to others.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I first read this book soon after it was published 20 years ago. Reading it for a book club 20 years later was an interesting experience. I found myself much more attuned to the peaks and valleys in the marital relationship between Anne and Stephen as well as the interior thoughts of Anne as she approached middle age. Also, I had forgotten how lovely and wonderful the character of Turid was...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Fr. Dominic Rankin

    Michael O'Brien gifts the reader with an exquisite panorama of a family undergoing the ravages and benedictions of time, blossoming at times, bearing fruit, growing together, and, as is the case in real life, undergoing hardship, loneliness, and loss in equal measure. The phrase "oak in winter" is used throughout the book as an icon of the main character whose life we are privileged to follow, Anne Delaney, yet as the reader is swept along the life of Anne Delaney, we realize that she is only on Michael O'Brien gifts the reader with an exquisite panorama of a family undergoing the ravages and benedictions of time, blossoming at times, bearing fruit, growing together, and, as is the case in real life, undergoing hardship, loneliness, and loss in equal measure. The phrase "oak in winter" is used throughout the book as an icon of the main character whose life we are privileged to follow, Anne Delaney, yet as the reader is swept along the life of Anne Delaney, we realize that she is only one story interwoven with many others, one oak within a forest of other trees, all fighting against the frost. Leaving behind such a beautiful forest is heartwrenching, but I carry with me the many-colored kaleidoscope of human life and emotions so delightfully and meticulously strung together by O'Brien, by which he so powerfully draws the reader into their lives, and reminds us that the same glances, graces, and knowledge that Anne, and the others, grew together by in Strangers and Sojourners are found in real-life too, as long as we persevere as well, and together, through the crises and cold that await us too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason Hall

    It is not a quick read; the plot moves quite slowly. But, the characters are incredibly well-developed and the author, as usual, shows tremendous insight into human nature. A great story of the search for (and struggle with) faith during the course of a challenging life. O'Brien is perhaps the greatest Catholic novelist of our time. It is not a quick read; the plot moves quite slowly. But, the characters are incredibly well-developed and the author, as usual, shows tremendous insight into human nature. A great story of the search for (and struggle with) faith during the course of a challenging life. O'Brien is perhaps the greatest Catholic novelist of our time.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leila Chandler

    I am surprised that Michael D O'Brien is not more well-known as a writer. I had never heard of him until I got a job at a small Catholic book store, and I had never cared to read any of his books until I met my husband, whose parents own most of O'Brien's books. I was not expecting much, since "Christian fiction" usually conjures up images of Amish romances and cheesy stories about how prayer suddenly makes everyone's life perfect. But Strangers and Sojourners was not cheesy at all, neither was I am surprised that Michael D O'Brien is not more well-known as a writer. I had never heard of him until I got a job at a small Catholic book store, and I had never cared to read any of his books until I met my husband, whose parents own most of O'Brien's books. I was not expecting much, since "Christian fiction" usually conjures up images of Amish romances and cheesy stories about how prayer suddenly makes everyone's life perfect. But Strangers and Sojourners was not cheesy at all, neither was it preachy or simplistic. I was impressed by the quality of writing and the depth of the characters, and stories about Canadian pioneers is one of my favourite genres. This is not just a story about some Catholic people, it is much more than that. In fact, most of the characters are and remain non-religious, and some of the more religious ones are eccentric and unable to defend their faith very well. O'Brien does a great job of making the people and the town feel real. My only complaint is that sometimes the plot slowed down too much, as the main character needed to stop and analyze her annoying feelings ad nauseam. But it always picks up again at some point. I would recommend it to everyone.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Burns

    Michael D. O’Brien has become one of my favorite authors. His writing is deep and beautiful. His poetry, threaded throughout his books, is amazing. Most of all his, character development is beyond rich. I have ordered three more of his books. His book, The Island if the World remains among my top five favorites.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heidi'sbooks

    4.5 rating. Not quite as good as Island of the World, but it has the same beautiful writing style.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christina Baker

    I read this one for Well-Read Mom...don't know if I would have ever picked up Michael O'Brien's work otherwise. The size of the tomes was just too intimidating, and I have never had a friend hand me one of his books and say, "You have to read this." I won't be doing that, either. The story of Anne's life and her search for something greater - the reader knows it is God whom she seeks, but Anne takes a very long time to come around to this fact - is epic in scale. It contains some gems. I loved th I read this one for Well-Read Mom...don't know if I would have ever picked up Michael O'Brien's work otherwise. The size of the tomes was just too intimidating, and I have never had a friend hand me one of his books and say, "You have to read this." I won't be doing that, either. The story of Anne's life and her search for something greater - the reader knows it is God whom she seeks, but Anne takes a very long time to come around to this fact - is epic in scale. It contains some gems. I loved the Polish immigrant who implores Anne's grandson to "make beauty." But I found it overwritten, and I repeatedly had difficulty suspending my disbelief during the more mystical scenes. It is an interesting world O'Brien paints, with its mixture of stark realism and mystical, spiritual revelation which confronts the characters very viscerally. Often I could see his point, and frankly agreed with him, but still found myself frowning at what I was reading. (Perhaps this is part of the problem - too often it was blatantly clear what his point was, to the detriment of the storytelling.) I'm not sorry I read Strangers and Sojourners. It provided food for thought, and I did find myself interested in the lives of some of the characters as I got farther into the book. But it's now one I would hurry to read again, or one I would press onto my friends.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    What a sweeping, insightful portrait of life! As I cherish solitude and peace, I identify with Anne and Stephen. I appreciate the author's portraits of the pursuit of faith, the holy mystery of marriage, the quest for purpose, and the slow and steady realization of purpose fulfilled. pg. 439-440: Ashley argues, "Nathaniel is going to be raised free. Free to think and be whatever he chooses. No one is going to mold him." "Everyone is molded," says his mother [Anne]. "We choose what to mold our chi What a sweeping, insightful portrait of life! As I cherish solitude and peace, I identify with Anne and Stephen. I appreciate the author's portraits of the pursuit of faith, the holy mystery of marriage, the quest for purpose, and the slow and steady realization of purpose fulfilled. pg. 439-440: Ashley argues, "Nathaniel is going to be raised free. Free to think and be whatever he chooses. No one is going to mold him." "Everyone is molded," says his mother [Anne]. "We choose what to mold our children with. Nothing grows in a vacuum. If you think you're making a free human being just by letting him grow spontaneously, you won't end up with a free human being. You'll have a patchwork boy composed of whatever is prowling about in his culture. He'll be about as far from freedom as you can get."

  14. 5 out of 5

    William

    This book was an internal book. Not much external action but it primarily chronicles the life of a woman and it is pretty amazing. Don't pick this up expecting a sequel to the apocalyptic excitement of "Father Elijah" though. Where the drive to read "Father Elijah" lies in the fast-paced adventure, in "Strangers and Sojourners" I was compelled forward in the hopes of discovering another of the many amazing points for personal mediation and reflection that O'Brien delivers! Highly recommended. This book was an internal book. Not much external action but it primarily chronicles the life of a woman and it is pretty amazing. Don't pick this up expecting a sequel to the apocalyptic excitement of "Father Elijah" though. Where the drive to read "Father Elijah" lies in the fast-paced adventure, in "Strangers and Sojourners" I was compelled forward in the hopes of discovering another of the many amazing points for personal mediation and reflection that O'Brien delivers! Highly recommended.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Regina Doman

    Truly marvelous book, marred only by a final chapter with a bizarre and totally unbelievable scene with a man trapped in a cave with a grizzly bear who is channeling Satan. But the 99% rest of the book -- two wounded people who meet, marry, and live a marriage of solitude -- is heartbreakingly beautiful and well worth the read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Miss Clark

    3.5 stars Best guess, I read this back in 2005, possibly 2004, and I was honestly a bit young to really appreciate it. I recall being distressed at the trials and problems between the couple, as well as the isolation that is inherent. Excellent atmosphere and it gives an intimate illustration of one marriage, in all its beauty and tragedy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Debbi

    I read and loved O'Brien's Fr. Elijah and wanted more. I was so disappointed with this book. There was certainly some good points and a few interesting characters in it, but overall it was a let down. I read and loved O'Brien's Fr. Elijah and wanted more. I was so disappointed with this book. There was certainly some good points and a few interesting characters in it, but overall it was a let down.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maurice Williams

    Michael D. O'Brien has created a fascinating set of novels describing what any of us might experience if we were to fall under the rule of Antichrist and be pulled into the war of all wars. Apocalyptic literature is today very popular and has been popular for some time. LaHaye and Jenkin's "Left Behind" series has sold over forty million copies and spun off two full-length movies. Hal Lindsey, in the 1970's wrote the best seller "The Late Great Planet Earth" and other titles and produced at leas Michael D. O'Brien has created a fascinating set of novels describing what any of us might experience if we were to fall under the rule of Antichrist and be pulled into the war of all wars. Apocalyptic literature is today very popular and has been popular for some time. LaHaye and Jenkin's "Left Behind" series has sold over forty million copies and spun off two full-length movies. Hal Lindsey, in the 1970's wrote the best seller "The Late Great Planet Earth" and other titles and produced at least one movie documentary. O'Brien's work: "Children of the Last Days," comprises six novels, the first of which is "Strangers and Sojourners." Unlike LaHaye and Lindsey, who try to interpret Revelation line-for-line, O'Brien believes an end-times novel should not try to predict the future. It should raise the important question that may be asked by every generation: "Are we living in the decisive moment in history?" O'Brien's first three novels tell the lives of the Delaney family. "Strangers and Sojourners," his first novel in the series, starts in 1900 with the patriarch, Stephen Delaney, a young boy in Ireland, his future wife Anne Ashton still a child in England. Anne comes from an Anglican family whose faith has been weakened by the father's obsession with séances. Stephen comes from a Catholic family staunch in their faith. Stephen's father was killed by British soldiers. This British woman, this Irish man, of different faiths, meet in Northwest Canada where they fall in love and marry. Anne, though not well grounded in her faith, seeks justice and truth. Stephen, quiet and taciturn, cannot share his convictions with Anne. The English speaking Western culture surrounding them, like Anne's father, is shifting off center and pursuing the occult, the new age, and many other things not consistent with Scripture. This end-times novel takes the reader through two full generations and parts of the preceding and following generations. It also takes the reader through seventy years of social and governmental change. A long novel with many characters, "Strangers and Sojourners" paints a vivid picture of trends our own cultures and governments are advocating. We see a departure from Biblical morality, a desire, not merely to separate religion from state, but to distance religion so far from state that religious ideas no longer influence the state. We also see an escalating abortion industry having reached way beyond the question of the mother's health and when fertilization occurs. We have seen homosexuals demands rights that belong only in marriage. O'Brien takes these to what seems like their logical endpoints. O'Brien paints a somber picture of government becoming increasingly more totalitarian and hostile to dissension. The Delaney family try to turn those who control government back to respect for Christian roots. Anne Delaney worked first as a journalist for her local newspaper, then purchased the paper. Her grandson, Nathaniel, takes over the paper and continues stirring public opinion to turn society and government around. Although the novel is pure fiction, the sad reality is that our own governments appear headed in the same direction. What if we are the generation that has to deal with the Antichrist? Sobering thought! The Antichrist will be much more dangerous and brutal than Hitler or the Communists. We might stop the Antichrist if we are alert just like the Germans might have stopped Hitler if they had acted in time. Once such a person has consolidated his power, there will be little hope that we can escape his destiny. This unusual novel is sure to stimulate deep thinking on your part while you are enjoying the action in the novel.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    First, I have read conflicting reports on the order in which to read the books in this series. Here is what the author says on his website: "Most of the novels can be read independently of the others. However, the first three listed below are best read in sequence since they deal with the saga of a single family, in order as follows: 1) Strangers and Sojourners (1997) 2) Eclipse of the Sun (1998) 3) Plague Journal (1999) 4) Father Elijah: an apocalypse (1996) 5) Sophia House (2005) 6) A Cry of Stone (2 First, I have read conflicting reports on the order in which to read the books in this series. Here is what the author says on his website: "Most of the novels can be read independently of the others. However, the first three listed below are best read in sequence since they deal with the saga of a single family, in order as follows: 1) Strangers and Sojourners (1997) 2) Eclipse of the Sun (1998) 3) Plague Journal (1999) 4) Father Elijah: an apocalypse (1996) 5) Sophia House (2005) 6) A Cry of Stone (2003) Sophia House is a “prequel” to Father Elijah, but the order in which these two are read does not matter. The latter three (4,5,6) can be read in any sequence. Three other novels are not officially part of the Children of the Last Days series: 7) The Island of the World (2007) 8) Theophilos, (2010) 9) The Father’s Tale (2011)" S & S is a story of a woman and her town as they progress through the 20th century in rural Canada. Primarily exploring Anne's journey of disbelief and belief, as well as her journey toward self and Love. Eloquently explores themes of love, marriage, fidelity, faith, superstition, community, gifts and talents, parenting, urban growth, war, morality, and more. Almost magic realism at times, these words and themes and values will stay with me forever.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marybeth

    "'It could be the fragility of glass...Behind which we all hide...There are those we encounter in life who possess the gift of reaching through our barriers. To touch.' 'And is there harm in that?' he wondered, holding her imperciptibly tighter in the big hands. 'No harm if we're not shattered', she said. 'But how would you know it's safe if you don't allow it to happen?' 'How can I allow it to happen if I don't know it's safe?...You will be hurt, she thought. You too will break against his silence "'It could be the fragility of glass...Behind which we all hide...There are those we encounter in life who possess the gift of reaching through our barriers. To touch.' 'And is there harm in that?' he wondered, holding her imperciptibly tighter in the big hands. 'No harm if we're not shattered', she said. 'But how would you know it's safe if you don't allow it to happen?' 'How can I allow it to happen if I don't know it's safe?...You will be hurt, she thought. You too will break against his silence...She hungered for his eyes, needed him to hold her with them, to look into her the way he did with the children and animals. She would have begged for it, too, if silence, the third partner of their long marriage, had not raised its voice. Loss, loss, all that waste, thought the woman. Oh, the time I did not love you. 'I love you", he repeated foolishly. He reached out his hand. She reach out hers from across a chasm. But as they touched and his grip was firm upon hers, she saw that the chasm was only a crack, and that it had always been so. As she watched, it closed and disappeared altogether. They looked into each other now, and the woman's soul swam outward through the liquid black of his eyes...'Did you hear that?' she said, startled, looking toward the window. 'What?' 'Glass. The sound of shattering glass.' But he had heard nothing."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Dalton

    What appealed to me most about this book was its honesty in regards to the character of Anne. Some readers might not "get" her angst, but it was right on target in terms of getting into the mind of a sensitive woman with an intellectual bend, who finds herself in a remote area, surrounded by people who (mostly) don't understand her and married to a man of a very different background. Any person who has experienced even a little of this can relate to her situation. As a Catholic writer, O'Brien is What appealed to me most about this book was its honesty in regards to the character of Anne. Some readers might not "get" her angst, but it was right on target in terms of getting into the mind of a sensitive woman with an intellectual bend, who finds herself in a remote area, surrounded by people who (mostly) don't understand her and married to a man of a very different background. Any person who has experienced even a little of this can relate to her situation. As a Catholic writer, O'Brien is interested in looking at life as a journey, or pilgrimage, towards a deeper relationship with the Unseen (as it is in Anne's case) -- but he never does this in an obvious or heavy-handed way. In fact, it's a little frustrating to see him pigeon-holed as a "Catholic Writer," when his books would actually have a wide appeal. You don't have to be any particular kind of believer to find the story compelling.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This book is a lot. There is a lot in it that is very good, but I honestly feel like there was a lot that wasn’t necessary. For such a long book that is so rich in detail, I was surprised that some of the characters felt pretty flat. For being a book abt conversion & faith by a catholic author, I was surprised that the sacraments played so small a role. I feel like it is a book full of potential that was never properly edited, polished, or developed. The protagonist, a woman named Anne, is intro This book is a lot. There is a lot in it that is very good, but I honestly feel like there was a lot that wasn’t necessary. For such a long book that is so rich in detail, I was surprised that some of the characters felt pretty flat. For being a book abt conversion & faith by a catholic author, I was surprised that the sacraments played so small a role. I feel like it is a book full of potential that was never properly edited, polished, or developed. The protagonist, a woman named Anne, is introduced to us as a very young child & has some pretty intense supernatural & occult experiences - but instead of using those to build tension & then redemption, it almost seems as if O’Brien … forgot about them? There’s a strong libertarian theme I could have done without, & a lot of the kind of romanticizing of the past that makes me roll my eyes. I really liked Father Elijah - that was tense & exciting & hard to put down. This … was … not.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Keary Onken

    This book is absolutely amazing. It will break your heart, and take your breath away with how beautiful it can be. To give a basic plot description would not do justice to it. In a way this book is bigger on the inside-- there is so much more going on beneath and beyond a basic plot description. A book of immense interiority, with great insights into our world and the human condition. It is, among other things, a meditation on or reflection of chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation, and it definite This book is absolutely amazing. It will break your heart, and take your breath away with how beautiful it can be. To give a basic plot description would not do justice to it. In a way this book is bigger on the inside-- there is so much more going on beneath and beyond a basic plot description. A book of immense interiority, with great insights into our world and the human condition. It is, among other things, a meditation on or reflection of chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation, and it definitely has elements of magical or fantastical realism. But it is a book that can be read and enjoyed on many levels.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Painfully beautiful writing at times, with so many words that I didn’t know the definitions for, but then in the middle it started becoming too drawn out on scenes and characters that ended up having no relevance and it was all over the place. The beginning was so drawn out on the main character, Anne, and then it became too fast, flitting from one character’s story to the next, that I couldn’t feel deeply for any of them and I just wanted to hear more about Anne. So it was very disappointing in Painfully beautiful writing at times, with so many words that I didn’t know the definitions for, but then in the middle it started becoming too drawn out on scenes and characters that ended up having no relevance and it was all over the place. The beginning was so drawn out on the main character, Anne, and then it became too fast, flitting from one character’s story to the next, that I couldn’t feel deeply for any of them and I just wanted to hear more about Anne. So it was very disappointing in the end, but the first third was good. Maybe the other 2 books in this trilogy will tie up loose ends, I don’t know. But his writing is still magnificent.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    I literally don’t have any words for the straight up BEAUTY of this, in storytelling, CHARACTER. FREAKING. DEVELOPMENT and ARC, symbolism, momentum, poetic prose, wonder.... the list goes on. if you need a good book to read (which you do), if you need something that fuels your spirit (which you do), and if you have the time and the patience to watch such a truly EPIC story unfold, just go get this book and hold it in your hands and open it and read it and then afterwards, close it and hold it an I literally don’t have any words for the straight up BEAUTY of this, in storytelling, CHARACTER. FREAKING. DEVELOPMENT and ARC, symbolism, momentum, poetic prose, wonder.... the list goes on. if you need a good book to read (which you do), if you need something that fuels your spirit (which you do), and if you have the time and the patience to watch such a truly EPIC story unfold, just go get this book and hold it in your hands and open it and read it and then afterwards, close it and hold it and love it some more. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Although this book was well written, and contained some lovely passages, on the whole I struggled to enjoy it. I found that the breadth of the novel limited the depth of the characters. Bizarrely, given the many times we read descriptions of Anne’s thoughts, I still never really felt that I knew her deeply. Although there were many crises and dramas, I did not feel very invested in the story arc, and found it at times a little chaotic. Perhaps this is a genre that is just not my cup of tea!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ian Mackay

    This is a phenomenal book. Apocalyptic but more than that, it serves as a bridge between the ordinary and the extraordinary. As a first novel it contains more of the author than any of his subsequent novels except perhaps (A cry of Stone). The themes of the trilogy (Children of the Last Days) are all embedded in this story, linking them with the fabric of all lives and the story of humanity. This may be read and re-read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This is a wonderful tale about an Indian artist's journey in Canada. "Beauty is like crying and laughing together." "Time is an illusion of the mind" "All history is revealed within the rules of children's games" "death was her first abstraction" "a man who sees only light will stumble over things that lie in the shadows." "It's gonna take somebody's blood on a Friday afternoon" This is a wonderful tale about an Indian artist's journey in Canada. "Beauty is like crying and laughing together." "Time is an illusion of the mind" "All history is revealed within the rules of children's games" "death was her first abstraction" "a man who sees only light will stumble over things that lie in the shadows." "It's gonna take somebody's blood on a Friday afternoon"

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    I have mixed feeling towards this story. For the most part I liked it and there were many parts that I loved but then the story would hit a lull and I would find myself drifting off until I hit the next interesting part. The story follows the life of a young English woman starting when she is very young. This is her journey in life and her struggle in a greater power.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ei

    The beginning of this book was very difficult for me to connect with. Since I enjoyed the author, I decided to continue. The characters and struggles made the connection for me. I'm sure there was more to the imagery of words and the poetry that passed by my understanding, however, I was happy to complete this book. I have started the next book in the series. The beginning of this book was very difficult for me to connect with. Since I enjoyed the author, I decided to continue. The characters and struggles made the connection for me. I'm sure there was more to the imagery of words and the poetry that passed by my understanding, however, I was happy to complete this book. I have started the next book in the series.

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