Initiation

Author(s): 
Robert Hugh Benson
Publisher: 
Lepanto Press
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Set in aristocratic England of the late 19th century, this novel by a convert to Catholicism explores the concept of our participation in the Atonement. Young Sir Nevill Fanning is thoughtlessly and unconsciously pagan (though outwardly Catholic) and heir to his dear Aunt Ann's estate. Early on, he falls in love with a Protestant, and this raises various issues both within his aunt and within himself. A Mr. Morpeth represents the holiness and wisdom of the Church as Nevill and Ann work out their salvation.The novel is at once a profound explanation and touching portrayal of intercessory prayer and atoning suffering, using the unique idiom of the novel, in which the author can create and then unfold an entire cast of characters. Psychological insights and matters of spiritual growth are magnified and clarified in the lens of story. For various reasons, I have recently read a lot of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, and it is all the more interesting to enter into an English countryside world not too far removed from theirs in place or time, but very much removed in theological reach.It would have been helpful if the publishers had included a table of contents. Several striking passages proved very hard to relocate. There is an extraordinarily sweet and insightful passage about people who see little "signs" in various things. (See Book 2, chapter V, section IV, or, page 261) Even the first passage about initiation, a thoughtful reflection on the difference between those who have come to accept what happens and those who have not, is very hard to find. It's on page 71, and it is clearly the prologue to the interior substance of the story.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

This book was donated for review by Lepanto Press

Review Date: 
3-26-01
Reviewed by: