The Keys of the Kingdom
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The Keys of the Kingdom

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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  999 ratings  ·  109 reviews


A magnificent story of the great adventure of individual goodness.”
The New York Times Book Review


“Cronin is a first-rate literary craftsman with an honest love of simple humanity.”
Time magazine

“Full of life and people and color.”
Harper’s Magazine
Francis Chisholm is a compassionate and humble priest whose individuality and directness make him unpopular with other c...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Loyola Classics (first published 1941)
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Best Novels That Take Place in China
51st out of 245 books — 687 voters
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51st out of 305 books — 248 voters


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Community Reviews

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Phil
A colleague and friend recently reminded me of the movie of this book in 1944 that starred Gregory Peck. It got me to thinking that it has been easily forty years since I read any A.J. Cronin.

Loyola Press is to be commended for including this novel by A.J. Cronin in its list of Loyola Classics. Cronin (1896-1981) is sadly forgotten today, but I recall in my youth the buzz at my local public library whenever a new book by Cronin appeared.

Three of his better novels, Keys of the Kingdom, The Stars...more
TJ
There are books that one LIKES to read for light fun and escape, then there are books one SHOULD read because they make one stretch and become a better person. This book falls into the "should read" category.

A deep, moving, beautifully written book. It is pretty heavy but in a good way. I found I could read for awhile and absolutely love it but would have to take breaks, then come back for more. It takes time and thought to ingest the messages being taught in the story.
Natalie Ethington
I read this a long time ago and rediscovered this recently. A Catholic priest thinks he has not done anything to really make a difference in the world but the story tells of the things he has done that have changed people's lives. Read it if you are ever feeling discouraged or unappreciated!
Heather
This is probably the most significant book I've ever read. It has shaped who I am and how I approach life more than any other book. I have a very old copy from my grandmother that I reread whenever I feel the need to do a little soul searching.

The book description doesn't do it justice. I strongly recommend it. It is not, not, not a book that tries to convert you to any particular religious belief (the main character is a priest, but his best friend is an atheist, and the main character is sure...more
Ellie
I read this book at 14 so here's my memory:

A romantic view of a dedicated man who surrenders everything to serve God (and later be well-played by Gregory Peck). He goes to China, and is beloved by all but the Mother Superior with whom he serves God. But in the end she has to respect his dedication and integrity. He is intellectually gifted but sometimes pragmatically challenged & quirky and although he inadvertently flies in the face of Catholic authorities because of his true holiness they...more
Jim
I must emotionally feel this is one of the few great novels I have read. This book was written by A.J.Cronin in 1941. It starts with a young priest in the British Isles. His name is Father Francis Chisholm, a Scottish priest who is somewhat unconventional in his methods. If I tried to pick out his methods I would say spreading love, and his desire is to establish a mission in China. As you read through his adventures you see the Chinese people, from the most poor to warlords to the heads of othe...more
Vishwanath Praveen
"Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires and a touch that never hurts" - Charles Dickens
Not sure if Dickens had written a prelude to Father Francis Chisholm's character, but this quote symbolises what the protagonist in A.J.Cronin's beautifully written novel "Keys of the Kingdom" stood for.
This proved to be one of the most un-putdownable non-mystery/thriller books for me. I think the book is a biography of Cronin's friend(to whom this book is dedicated) who was a missionar...more
Giovanna
Eccolo,un altro libro strappalacrime! Commovente,pieno di sani e buoni principi,condanna verso l'ipocrisia,il falso moralismo,l'avidità,l'intolleranza,il razzismo e il fanatismo.Esaltazione del valore sublime dello spirito umano e consapevolezza della sua fragilità.E sopra a tutto la sconfinata fiducia nella inesauribile forza dell'essere umano e l'incrollabile ottimismo in un lieto fine che consola e ripaga la bontà e l'onestà.
Beh,che c'è di male in questo? Nei vecchi romanzi non ci si vergogna...more
James
My dad gave this book to me as a result of finding it on a beach trip. I enjoyed this book even though it was hard to follow at times -- perhaps because I took so long to read it. Regardless, I greatly admired Father Chisolm's perseverance. That is a reminder to me that whenever I'm in dire straits, all I have to do is let God know that I need His help. And who knows? Perhaps someday I'll travel out of this country for missions purposes because I think Cronin, in some ways, has inspired me to do...more
Carlos Zambrano
Este es un libro que había llegado a mi como un regalo del papá de mi novia, lo tuve en mi estante durante un año y medio, lo tome para un viaje en el que no tenía un libro para leer y resulto ser bastante placentero.

Es un libro sobre la vida de un sacerdote escocés desde su niñez hasta su muerte, me parece un bonito ejemplo de vida cristiana, no perfecta y de libertad de mente y espíritu, a pesar de ser AJ Cronin un practicante asiduo capta perfectamente el aroma de santidad que se lo transmit...more
Kristen
This is a beautiful book in the style of How Green Was My Valley describing the life of a young man growing up in Scotland and becoming a Catholic priest. He is sent to an out-of-the-way town in China under the impression that he is taking over a well-established mission. This book resonated with me because of its Kierkegaardian philosophies about Christianity, and does a great job of taking on the issues of religion vs. morality without being preachy or sentimental. A great read.
Jill
This is an older book and as such has some language that is no longer familiar but it is a wonderful story of a Catholic priest who has a difficult childhood but overcomes his trials and becomes a missionary in China. He wins over those around him with his kind heart and service to others. It really is a good read, probably my favorite book by Cronin.
Annika
My beloved grandmother's favourite book - only one reason why I love it :)
Joseph Spinale
A compelling description of honest spirituality
Alicia
Dec 07, 2011 Alicia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alicia by: Marilyn Faulkner (in Back to the Best Books)
I loved this book (written in 1941) about a Scottish boy who endures much tragedy during his childhood yet grows up to become a Catholic priest and a missionary in China from 1902 until the 1930's. Father Chisholm is a truly tolerant, courageous and Christlike man who humbly builds up the mission in China, despite famine, plague, and war. This was also made into a Gregory Peck movie in 1944.

Quotes:
"'That is life...to begin again when everything is lost!'" -- p. 219

"...his second thought was that...more
Marissa
I LOVED this book.. one of my favorite teachers recommended it for me when we were discussing the Catholic church. I was then required to write an analysis of the novel for extra credit.

Alex, a fanatic of violence and classical music, is the beau ideal of anarchy. He lives up to his name (A-Lex, or “without law) by asserting his power over his three “droogs” and leading them into acts of violence, theft and molestation. His vocabulary, built out of broken nadsat ,and his love of breasts both ech...more
Lori
I loved this story of Francis Chisholm, a Scottish Catholic priest, who is assigned to a mission in China from 1902 through 1938. His goodness, humility, and lack of prejudice finally win him the admiration and love of those he serves, although this is not his desire or goal. He wants only to do as Christ would do. I love this comment by his boyhood friend, Dr. Tulloch, who had come to China to help with an epidemic of plague, "Man, I've never loved ye so much as I do now...for not trying to bul...more
Pete
I found the language a great challenge at first, with many unfamiliar words to stumble over. But as I became accustomed to that and began to realize those words were well-smithed, I began to relate to the main character, in his struggle with ecclesiastical systems and the flawed ways others lived within the heirarchy of his church, with his raw and basic and honest struggle with the gospel and faith, and yet more and more admiring how he lived his out well, partly because he was in some ways ins...more
Manuel Alvarez Cortes
A rebel Catholic priest who thinks that some atheists can go to Heaven, Adventures in China during World War I. Definitely my kind of book.

Un cura católico rebelde que piensa que algunos ateos pueden ir al cielo, aventuras en China durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Definitivamente mi tipo de libro.
Julie Davis
Reading this for the Elements of Faith book club, as our fiction pick. I'm just in the first few chapters but am enjoying the writing style quite a bit and looking forward to getting past the childhood narrative. I can see from the beginning why those who recommended this said it seemed Dickensian to them.

FINAL
Altogether an enjoyable book which was also an interesting adventure. As Father Francis Chisholm learns how to minister to the Chinese people in a way that they will understand, he also pr...more
Lindy
Set during the turn of the century (late 1800's early 1900's - not our most recent turn :) this is an examination of one Catholic priest's life. His faith, his challenges, his devotion to family and God, his love of the Chinese people he eventually serves for 30+ years, and all that makes him tick.

This is a good book that looks at how we see other people and how religion can influence that vision. I love the discussion that the author has about religion versus faith without actually having the d...more
Liz
Just get through the beginning of this book, and then you'll have so much to learn from this fictional man! The author did such a good job creating a real man. On a personal note, I really feel like one of the purposes of life is to learn to love and I felt like that was the main character's journey in this book. I also liked the questions of missionary work--"am I doing any good?" "How can I measure my success?" "Does He approve of me?" Those are such real questions when you're trying to be a t...more
Kathy
This book was a nice escape. I really enjoyed curling up and spending time with the main character. He was such a good, simple priest. The tragedies and set backs in the first half of the book were a bit predictable and unnecessary, but even then the good Father's character carried the day. The second half, which takes place in a remote mission in China, is full of adventure as Father Chisholm battles harsh envirnments, plague and warlords all while trying to make a difference in an entirely dif...more
Roxann
The foreword of this book (by Bottum) made me a little sceptical, but I'm glad I read it anyway. Francis Chisholm is a timeless character of faith, compassion, humility, and tolerance. His occasional crises of faith are still relevant and worth pondering. Wonderful scope of ministerial experiences from Scotland and England to China, covering decades. Perhaps the story is a little sentimental and pious, perhaps Anselm Mealy is a little too obviously a foil for Chisholm's devout character, but I c...more
Katie
The book was given to me by a colleague as we started on long road trip to Asia. The story and the character Francis Chisholm were a wonderful companion on a trip I've made numerous times in the past. The story ultimately made a tremendous impression and it continues to be one of the most meaningful stories I've read and continues to hold a special place on my favorite books list. The story is so inauspiciously told, Francis is humble, devoted, and courageous in a simple way, with his humanity i...more
Jess Hey
I read this for my book group and the discussion was very good. A surprising old fashioned read (written in 1942) and it fitted together with lots of trials to overcome. Enjoyed reading about China in earlier days and his recognition of other religions.Surely a fuller life if priests can marry though. Found the made up names for the towns a small niggle both in the North East and in China.
The is actually the New English Library edition suitably faded brown with a little post-it inside saying 'p...more
Gay Scherrer
Sometimes you wonder why you loved a book from so long ago……….then you reread it and you know again why you loved it so much.This is a wonderful story!!!
Gregory Philips
An excellent book that deals with a priest's struggles while maintaining his faith. It also showcases many of the flaws of people in the heirarchy of the church and how they view themselves.

I actually came across this book quite by accident and just turned a couple of pages just to see how it was. I was shocked when I discovered how I couldnt put it down and kept turning the pages until I realised I reached the end.

This is "Pilgrim's Progress" for grownups.
Gail Ann
When you're in 7th grade, this is really good stuff! I read several of his early works then and loved them. But in my 40's, some of his later stuff didn't quite add up to my opinion of his earlier works....as if I thought he'd sold out stylistically and working too hard for marketability and the mesh just didn't work for me.....moralism weakening with hollywood soaps-was it part of his own personal quandary?...not what I'm looking for...
Wendybird
A wonderful heroic story from a gifted, knowledgeable author. This was personally recommended by one of my high school teachers, and I was reluctant to read it because tales of priests and missionaries just had to be dull. I learned that Cronin’s books of priests and doctors are far from dull. While this story involves the professional religious, it is just as political as spiritual, and very much a heroic adventure on a very human scale.
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807271
Archibald Joseph Cronin was a Scottish novelist, dramatist, and non-fiction writer who was one of the most renowned storytellers of the twentieth century. His best-known works are The Citadel and The Keys of the Kingdom, both of which were made into Oscar-nominated films. He also created the Dr. Finlay character, the hero of a series of stories that served as the basis for the long-running BBC tel...more
More about A.J. Cronin...
The Citadel Hatter's Castle The Green Years The Stars Look Down The Judas Tree

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“Hell is that state where one has ceased to hope.” 35 likes
“Some temptations cannot be fought. One must close one's mind and fly from them” 14 likes
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