Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Strangers and Sojourners

Well I just finished my borrowed copy (thanks Sara!) of Michael O'Brien's Strangers and Sojourners. Overall I thought it was a very good novel. Of the three O'Brien novels that I've read so far (this one along with Father Elijah and Island of the World) I do have to say that it was my least favorite. Still good in it's own right but not as good as the other two.

So to the book... It is the first in a trilogy which follows the life (and later the descendants) of Stephen and Anne Delaney in British Columbia. This book focuses mainly on Anne and her internal struggle to break free from her rationalistic self and come to know and embrace something greater than herself. Anne's husband, Stephen, is Irish Catholic and so very different than his wife. Her love is in words and reason and the power of the mind and his life is much simpler, one connected to the land he works and the One who provides.

Although it is a bit slow to read, there were certain chapters or certain sections that kept me completely spellbound. Not to mention a few twists or divine coincedences that left me back paddling through pages to make the connection. O'Brien has a beautiful and vivid way of portraying the emotion felt by a distressed soul searching for a transcendental God. You will grieve with Anne and whisper words of encouragement to her as she undergoes her transformation. If you do read this book and you're finding it slow, I encourage you to hang in because it definitely picks up towards the end.

One last comment, below is a passage that I found particularly relevant:

Anne: "Yes. I was happy. But not with the kind of happiness most people want. It went much deeper. I can't describe it. It was a sense that grew and grew over the years, a current underneath everything, a feeling, a form, a hand that was on my life. A sort of fierce, fatherly love that demanded everything from me but hid itself from me. It had given everything. It wanted total trust in return."

1 comment:

Sara said...

I'm glad the book got read and is a slow read and I got lost. Today I gave your Mom a book, 'A Postcard from the Volcano'. You know how Belloc writes in a generational sense? If one generation accepts this false idea what are the consequences for the next 2 or 3 generations? This book looks back to the French Revolution, its influence in Europe and tells the story of the political/religious influences in Germany in between WW1 and WW2. It's a novel and incorporates Jewish/Catholic/Protestant ideas and how they influenced different people and politics. I would like to discuss it with a group. Anyone out there interested?