Tuesday 1 November 2011

Happy All Hallows!

Happy All Saints' Day!  Also known as All Hallows' Day, you might have celebrated HallowE[v]en[ing], but that's a bit like celebrating Christmas Eve without celebrating Christmas, in my opinion.

Gotta say, there are a lot of reasons I don't like Hallowe'en - from its rather unpleasant origins to the decorations in *every* shop window which are not good for those of us who suffer from arachnophobia - so I'm pleased it's out of the way and I can get behind a nicer day to celebrate!

Lots of people read spooky books for Hallowe'en (I don't have a problem with the bookish part of the day!) but I'd like to read something which fits the theme of All Hallows' Day - any suggestions?  Anything with a saint or a church or similar - but no ghost stories or Gothic graveyards!

Barbara Pym, perhaps?  Hmm... my mind is rather a blank...

A couple recommendations which I've already read, if you want to celebrate a saintly day - you could do a lot worse than Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield or Marilynne Robinson's Gilead.

Over to you!


  1. How about The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge? It's about a cathedral and the Dean of the cathedral... It's also one of my mum's favourite books :) It is a lovely book, so I would recommend it for any occasion (particularly for a Christian reader)

  2. Dear Simon,

    I'm coming out of chronic lurking status, to recommend The Towers of Trebizond, which I have mentioned to you BEFORE... It has a great high/low church theme but with an exotic Turkish setting. Also Cat is right about the Elizabeth Goudge novel. And Barbara Pym's A Glass of Blessings, Some Tame Gazelle or Crampton Hodnet would also work. Anthony Trollope's The Warden is also a beautiful non-preachy rendition of grace set in a Cathedral town. Sorry my wee bairns keep me from commenting on blogs. I do drink in your every word.

  3. Simon, I agree with all those suggestions. I'd probably go for Barbara Pym myself. I would suggest some of Dorothy L Sayers' religious works but I doubt that would be a success! How about another try at a Lord Peter novel? Nine Tailors has an ecclesiastical theme. A death in a bell tower & a lovely vicar drawn from DLS's father. Don't worry, I can hear you groaning from here!

  4. I know what you mean about the arachnaphobia! Have you ever read Madeleine St John's A Pure, Clear Light? I loved it - beautiful inclusion of faith in it. And have you read Elizabeth Pewsey's Cathedral town novels - Children of Chance, Unholy Harmonies, Divine Comedy, etc? They are a bit of fluff really, but very good fluff.

  5. Well, I'm reading The Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier right now. It's a family saga, and though the first part is a bit disturbing with incestuous understones (although not any actually incest), it's not too bad, especially the last half. It seems like a good book for All Saints' Day. I like the thought of the saints as ordinary people in heaven, those that have gone before us and are there to support us who are still here. Although I don't think Du Maurier believed in heaven, she does see the generations linking with one another and supporting each other down through the ages.

  6. If you have not yet read 'The Towers of Trebizond' Simon it is a scandal and you must do so immediately.

    I vaguely remembered some of Robertson Davies' novels being a bit ecclesiastical, but a quick look at Wikipedia (my copies are all at my parents' house) suggests this was my imagination although 'The Cunning Man' might fit the bill. Still, if you haven't read any RD I think you would enjoy his novels.

    How about the Father Brown stories?

    (My word verification is 'fismort', which seems somehow appropriate.)

  7. Cat - Oh, good suggestion - I think I have it somewhere...

    Merenia - only the other day I was wondering whether you were still around! Lovely to hear from you. And it is awful that I still haven't read Towers of Trebizond - BUT I did buy it recently. And how did I not think of The Warden! I have been planning to read Trollope before the end of 2011.. maybe at Christmas, since it's at home.

    Lyn - haha, nice try! Although I'm much more likely to try her essays on faith than I am to try another Peter W...

    Victoria - oo, thanks, don't know either of those, will investigate...

    Virginia - the Bible uses the term 'saints' to refer to living Christians too, so I like the idea of them encouraging one another down a family line - or, like Gilead, books about ordinary people living lives of faith.

    Helen - it *is* a scandal, I know! Father Brown stories are a great idea - I read my first Chesterton the other day, The Man Who Was Thursday, so I could be on a roll....

  8. Not a suggestion but glad to see someone else with similar feelings towards Halloween. Far better to celebrate All Saints Day on the 2nd IMO.

  9. Private Enterprise by Angela Thirkell -- features The Home For Stiff-Necked Clergy

    OT: Cat, my mother's favourite book is Green Dolphin Street by Goudge.

  10. I second the recommendation for any of Elizabeth Goudge's cathedral city novels, but if not I'd suggest 'A Month in the Country' if you haven't already read it. It has a lovely church setting and is beautifuly contemplative.

  11. Don't forget All Souls! Every 2 November I read Charles Causley's beautiful poem 'On All' Souls Day' which is like a tiny short story.


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