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The Keys of the Kingdom

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,440 Ratings  ·  136 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
Paperback, 480 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Loyola Classics (first published 1941)
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Paula Soto L'enfer s'il existe est réservée à ceux qui n'ont pas réussi à trouver la grâce dans leur vie. À ceux qui n'ont su ni aimer, ni apprécier la beauté de…moreL'enfer s'il existe est réservée à ceux qui n'ont pas réussi à trouver la grâce dans leur vie. À ceux qui n'ont su ni aimer, ni apprécier la beauté de la vie, à ceux qui n'ont jamais su prêter la main aux plus faibles ni pardonner les offences passées et ni aidé à construire des instants de bonheur. En bref s'il y a un enfer il est réservé à ceux qui ont refusé de vivre la vie.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,811)
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Mar 09, 2014 TJ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, clean
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.
Jan 12, 2011 DROPPING OUT rated it it was amazing
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
Natalie Ethington
Dec 07, 2010 Natalie Ethington rated it it was amazing
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!
Feb 29, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
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
Vishwanath Praveen
Sep 28, 2013 Vishwanath Praveen rated it it was amazing
"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
My rating: 3,5 stars

Even if this book is another masterpiece written by the Scottish writer AJ Cronin, my favorite book still remains as "The Citadel."

4* The Spanish Gardener
3* Lady with Carnations
5* The Citadel
3,5* The Keys of the Kingdom
TR Hatter’s Castle
TR The Stars Look Down
TR The Green Years
May 22, 2016 Gabriele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L'idea alla base de "Le chiavi del regno" di A.J. Cronin, probabilmente il libro più noto di questo grande scrittore scozzese, è quella di raccontarci le vicende di padre Chisholm, prete anticonformista che per tutta la sua travagliata e avventurosa vita cercherà di interpretare (e far interpretare) a suo modo la religione cristiana. Segnato fin da giovane da una serie di disavventure, compreso il rimanere orfano di entrambi i genitori proprio a causa di una disputa religiosa, Chisholm passerà l ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Ellie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, catholic
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
Apr 27, 2015 booklady rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I loved this book when I first read it back in October 2007. Rereading it eight years later I am somewhat less enamored. It's still an excellent story about an amazingly selfless British priest who serves in China at the beginning of the 20th century. Despite the title and main character, the book is ecumenical, although it does tend to be a bit romantic.

Worthwhile read.
Jan 10, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 23, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 28, 2012 Giovanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inghilterra
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
Dec 18, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 25, 2015 Amina rated it it was amazing
Why did it have to end?! Why?!
There are two categories of books, Books and "The books", The Keys Of The Kingdom belongs to "The books" category..
A.J. Cronin, took us to different places, diffrent states of mind and diffrent moods, through happy times, cruel situations, heartbreaking events, terror moments, made us smile, get angry and weep..
It's Francis Chicholm, one of the most amazing characters I've ever met, the incarnation of humanity, dignity and sacrifice..
From being mistreated in England
Carolyn Lind
Oct 14, 2015 Carolyn Lind rated it it was amazing
The Keys of the Kingdom is a rich thought provoking story of an unorthodox thoroughly lovable Scottish priest whose life is his most powerful message. Rather than seeking to change people, Francis opens his arms with love & acceptance of all. This book may deserve a second reading. Highly recommended for book clubs and discussion groups of all kinds.

"'That is begin again when everything is lost.'" -219

"Waking in the morning with the starlings chattering in the eaves, and the cooln
Dec 15, 2012 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity, history
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
Jul 22, 2014 Carlos Zambrano rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 14, 2015 Jon rated it liked it
The best-selling work of fiction in 1941, according to Publishers Weekly, was this religious text. I'm taking a bit of liberty in calling the work "religious," however, for the main character (with whom the author's sympathies seem to lie) is one who espouses a kind of echumenicalism.

The subject of the work is one Francis Chisholm, a British Catholic priest, who at the start of the novel is being forcefully retired for having various oddities. There also appears to have perhaps been something th
Feb 18, 2015 Jc rated it it was ok
I read a French translation of this book as a teenager and loved it. Some 50 years later I am a bit less enthusiastic. Yes it reads well and the storyline is good. But the main character, Father Chisholm, is a bit too perfect; this guy is a saint; it makes him a bit fake. I understand the Scott wanted to extoll the virtues of Catholicism but this is too much. To his credit Cronin does not hide the fact that not all in the catholic clergy behave like his hero. The other thing I did not like in th ...more
Jul 24, 2014 Annika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My beloved grandmother's favourite book - only one reason why I love it :)
Suzan Poisner
May 19, 2016 Suzan Poisner rated it liked it
This is a story of how one priest endures unending hardships in a patient manner, enjoying minimal earthly recognition with the hope of great heavenly promise.

The characters were well developed and flowed beautifully within their geographic situations. The development of personal relationships between the characters is thin.

I don't agree with the philosophy held by the main a life of suffering and minimal comforts and you will be rewarded by god after death. I think he took it t
Bonnie Palmer
Oct 03, 2015 Bonnie Palmer rated it really liked it
A.J. Cronin has to be one of the best authors of the 20th century, and Keys of the Kingdom his best novel. His characters are real, believable and alternately lovable or hateable. The only aspect that gave me pause was the sometimes faulty religious philosophy of the main character, Father Francis Chisholm, which is a kind of magnanimous amalgam of universalism, Catholicism, and Confucianism:
"Christ preached the brotherhood of man." (pp.256) No, actually Jesus said, "...For whoever does the will
Joseph Spinale
Feb 18, 2014 Joseph Spinale rated it it was amazing
A compelling description of honest spirituality
Dec 07, 2011 Alicia rated it really liked it
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.

"'That is begin again when everything is lost!'" -- p. 219

"...his second thought was that
Camilla Conaway
Apr 19, 2016 Camilla Conaway rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was informative, fun and adventurous. The insight into the Catholic church the life of Father Chisholm was enlightening. I found myself thinking about what kind of servant I am. Is my motivation more like his, unassuming, genuine and done out of love for God and others or is it like some of the others priests in the book, all for show and for the praise of the world? His adventures and experiences in China were fascinating and I loved this book.
Black Elephants
I think Father Chrisholm's demeanor, especially his disbelief that he has accomplished so little in the face of so much, is an admirable and something I can empathize with very much. In the nucleus of it all, it's so hard to see the fruits of our labor and perhaps in the end, we have to end up by the riverside of some English stream to reflect back on our lives only to still wonder how it turned out like that at all?
Apr 16, 2010 Marissa rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 25, 2013 Lori rated it it was amazing
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
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
Apr 19, 2014 Manuel Alvarez Cortes rated it it was amazing
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.
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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
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“Hell is that state where one has ceased to hope.” 41 likes
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