We had a spectacular evening last week as we met to discuss Lucy Beckett’s truly wonderful novel, A Postcard from the Volcano. I am partial to historical novels. You learn a bit of history and enjoy the story of a life or lives lived within that history. That is certainly the case with this novel. Beckett is obviously a master of her craft as a writer and most specifically, an accomplished historian. Beckett does a masterful job of portraying the Prussian pride and patriotism that blinded the German people during the rise of Hitler and the Nazi’s. The hero of the story, Count Max von Hofmannswaldau, is forced to confront the horror of a godless ideology that would lead to the annihilation of millions of people in Europe and around the globe. We all agreed that this novel will give the reader a much deeper understanding of tpolitical and ideological dynamics that would eventually lead to a global conflict. Joseph Pearce declared that the novel was “beautifully and masterfully written. A gripping story, it is also a great work of literature”. I would only add that it is a great work of Catholic literature as the Church and the Catholic faith are both accurately and positively presented to the reader in the context of the rise of the equally godless National Socialists and Communists of the 1920’s and ‘30’s.
I must also add that we feted Misfit Tom Loome for his birthday at our last meeting. We celebrated with a German (of course) Chocolate Cake and two bottles of plum brandy. (The cake and brandy figured large in the story and were appropriate to the celebration of Misfit Loome’s birthday.)
Now to our future reading selections:
This month we are reading He Leadeth Me by Walter J. Ciszek. This is the deeply moving personal story of Father Ciszek’s spiritual odyssey and the unflagging faith which enabled him to survive the horrendous ordeal of 23 years in the Soviet Gulags of Siberia.Captured by the Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a "Vatican spy," Father Cizek recalls how it was only through an utter reliance on God's will that he managed to endure. He tells of the courage he found in prayer-a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustrations, the anguish, the fears, the despair. “For, as Ciszek relates, the solace of spiritual contemplation gave him an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amidst the "arrogance of evil" that surrounded him. Learning to accept even the inhuman work of toiling in the infamous Siberian salt mines as a labor pleasing to God, he was able to turn adverse forces into a source of positive value and a means of drawing closer to the compassionate and never-forsaking Divine Spirit.”
We will meet at the Church of St. Michael on Wednesday, April 4th. at 7:00 pm to discuss Father Ciszek’s survival and the faith that allowed him to endure..
We have decided to read a shorter novel for May. We have chosen Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter , an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting. It is considered to be his Hawthorne's greatest work. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt. The novel is available from Amazon for $8.00.
For June, we are going to go on a Shakespearean adventure. We will read/view Hamlet! But more on that later! The exact details are still being worked out (movie night, discussion, etc.).
So for now, read on my good friends. And let me know if you have any reading “druthers” and I’ll add your suggestions to our list of books to be read....