Tag: Catholic

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Volume 1 and Volume 2, by Mark Twain (American classic)

“Regarded by many as the most luminous example of Twain’s work, this historical novel chronicles the French heroine’s life, as purportedly told by her longtime friend—Sieur Louis de Conté. A panorama of stirring scenes recount Joan’s childhood in Domremy, the story of her voices, the fight for Orleans, the splendid march to Rheims, and much more. An amazing record that disclosed Twain’s unrestrained admiration for Joan’s nobility of character, the book is matchless in its workmanship—one of Twain’s lesser-known novels that will charm and delightfully surprise his admirers and devotees.”


Joan of Arc’s fascinating holy life, combined with Mark Twain’s superb storytelling, make Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc the most compelling, uplifting novel I’ve read in a while. With this novel, Twain accomplishes what I believe is a difficult, if almost impossible, feat for an author—he makes a holy person both believable and accessible. At the other end of the spectrum, his evil characters are also just as real and believable—horrifyingly so.  Moreover, all of his characters, both fictional and historic, are unique and interesting. With his phenomenal insight into human character, Twain helped me understand how so many real people—both commoners and aristocrats—could have believed that a seventeen-year-old peasant girl had been visited by angels and called of God to deliver France from English bondage.  Continue reading

All-of-a-Kind Family and Twenty and Ten

All-of-a-Kind Family

All-of-a-Kind Family

All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John (Juvenile fiction)

“It’s the turn of the century in New York’s Lower East Side and a sense of adventure and excitement abounds for five young sisters—Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie. Follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor, or explore the basement warehouse of Papa’s peddler’s shop on rainy days. The five girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises. But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!”

Twenty and Ten, a.k.a. The Secret Cave, by Claire Huchet Bishop, illustrated by William Pene du Bois (Juvenile fiction)

“During the Nazi occupation of France, twenty ordinary French kids in a boarding school agree to hide ten Jewish children. Then German soldiers arrive. Will the children be able to withstand the interrogation and harassment?”


One of the women in my book group read all kinds of wonderful children’s literature when she was a girl and often recommends books the rest of us have never heard of. One of those books was All-of-a-Kind Family. Whenever I read a particularly delightful children’s book like this one as an adult, I often wonder how I would have liked it had I read it as a child. This time around, I began thinking fondly about the books I did read as a girl, and one of my most beloved books was a short novel entitled The Secret Cave, which was originally published with the title Twenty and Ten. I still have my little scholastic edition of The Secret Cave, with its torn cover and taped up, yellowed pages, and I have enjoyed reading it to my children. Continue reading

A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (science fiction)

“In the Utah desert, Brother Frances of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: the relics of the martyr Isaac Leibowitz himself, including the blessed blueprint and the sacred shopping list. They may provide a bright ray of hope in a terrifying age of darkness, a time of ignorance and genetic monsters that are the unholy aftermath of the Flame Deluge. But as the spellbinding mystery at the core of this extraordinary novel unfolds, it is the search itself—for meaning, for truth, for love—that offers hope to a humanity teetering on the edge of an abyss.”


A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz

Getting a glimpse of Zion from secular post-apocalyptic fiction is a difficult task; the reader is fortunate to get a glimpse of civilization in such stories. I found A Canticle for Leibowitz to be an exception. This is not a happy book, but it shows the faith of several generations of Catholic monks and their efforts to preserve the world’s knowledge and keep the light of Christ alive during very dark times. I particularly liked the way the abbot of the monastery, Dom Zerchi, in the final part of the book refuses to allow Doctor Cors, a man who writes permits allowing “hopeless cases” of radiation sickness to be euthanized by the government, to set up a “clinical testing” station in the monastery. The abbot responds with:

“Can you not, then, understand that I am subject to another law, and that it forbids me to allow you or anyone else on this property, under my rule, to counsel anyone to do what the Church calls evil?”

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