Saturday, January 28, 2012
Sister Bernard is an aging nun whose life has long revolved around the convent in the South of France where she lives. She and the two other elderly nuns who live in the convent are preparing to move to Les Cèdres, a religious retirement home. The move brings upheaval to Sister Bernard's life and secrets from the past resurface. The village community that once relied on the convent for spiritual guidance is distrustful of the nuns as a result of a betrayal that happened ages ago, in a very different time.
At thirty, Sister Bernard, along with much of the rest of France, is living under German occupation. She hardly notices the difference the Nazis have brought to her life in the convent, though that soon changes when a young soldier starts to look her way. Before the soldier, Sister Bernard's closest companion was God himself. She heard his voice throughout the day, reminding her to wipe her feet and scolding her over the sacred silverware. When Sister Bernard falls into an affair with the solider, God is at first furious and then silent. Sister Bernard falls deeper into her relationship with the soldier and is pulled away from her life at the convent. Obsessed with her passionate feelings toward him, she is led into duplicity, putting her entire community at risk.
Obedience is a beautifully written novel of love and faith. It is a portrait of a woman struggling to come to terms with her faith, her forbidden love, and her guilt-ridden past. Alexandra Harris, writing for The Sunday Times, observed, "Obedience comes close at times to being what Virginia Woolf once imagined: ‘a novel about Silence, the things people don't say.'"
My Thoughts: I'm torn by this book; it was a story of love that shouldn't have been - a sinful relationship but at the same time Sister Bernard didn't end up all roses and happy in the end so I think it showed that our sins have consequences. I can see how a young naive nun in WWII could be seduced by a Nazi soldier to have a relationship.... I was shocked and my heart ached for Sister Bernard after her encounter with the Commandant.
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy of Obedience available via NetGalley.