Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Keys of the Kingdom” as Want to Read:
The Keys of the Kingdom
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Keys of the Kingdom

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  1,706 Ratings  ·  158 Reviews
Francis Chisholm is a compassionate and humble priest whose vocation emerged from a crucible of suffering. His parents were murdered in anti-Catholic riots in Scotland, his guardians mistreat him, and his sweetheart commits suicide. He is sent to China where he establishes a flourishing Catholic mission amid desperate poverty, civil war, plague, and the hostility of his su ...more
Published 1978 by Gollancz (first published 1941)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Keys of the Kingdom, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

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)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 18, 2017 Roula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 αστερια.
Mar 14, 2010 TJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 06, 2011 DROPPING OUT rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 29, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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!
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
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
Ints Brunenieks
Turpinu iepazīt Kronina daiļradi. Grāmatā Kronins vieglā formā atstāsta kāda angļu katoļu garīdznieka Frānsisa Čizema dzīvesgājumu on bērnības līdz pat sirmam vecumam. Lai gan stāsts ir par katoļu garīdznieku, tomēr par reliģiju kā tādu grāmatā ir tieši tik daudz , lai neliktos pārāk daudz. Vairāk grāmatā pat ir par autora amata lietu - medicīnu. :) Bet patiesībā grāmata ir par cilvēka dzīvē patiešām svarīgajām lietām. Frānsisa dzīve ir kā zebras sāni: melnais mijas ar balto, melnā un pelēkā ir ...more
Jul 03, 2015 Gabriele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglese, owned
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
Aug 02, 2015 Amina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 16, 2007 booklady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Hannah Bush
Jun 20, 2017 Hannah Bush rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book way more than I thought I would. I'm starting my way through the NYT best seller list through the years and this is the first one for 1942. I wasn't looking forward to it at all. But thank heavens I was wrong. The character descriptions are so good. I felt for all the characters. I suffered with Fathrr Chisholm and I triumphed with him. It also made me do some retrospective thinking about today's Christianity and myself. I truly enjoyed this read
Mar 05, 2011 Ellie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 23, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 16, 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
Jan 10, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 14, 2013 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wanda
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Karen

5* The Citadel
5* Hatter's Castle
4* The Green Years
TR The Judas Tree
5* The Spanish Gardener
3* Adventures Of A Black Bag
3* The Keys of the Kingdom

The least enjoyable for me so far, probably for all the reasons why others love this one the best.

Jul 23, 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
Dec 27, 2012 Carlos Zambrano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 06, 2016 Penney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though I'm not Catholic, I somehow stumbled into the Loyola Classics series, and this novel from that collection made a deep impression on me. The philosophy conveyed is far from dogmatic--in fact, quite the opposite. Father Francis is one of those literary characters who will stay with me in memory just as strongly as people I have known in the "real" world. This narrative of one man's patience, humility, determination, honesty, endurance, compassion, tolerance, commonsense, and courage is ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Fr. Ted
May 13, 2016 Fr. Ted rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book about 35 years ago and found it just as riveting this 2nd time around. An inspiring novel about a priest's sufferings and struggles in life.
Joseph Spinale
Feb 13, 2014 Joseph Spinale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A compelling description of honest spirituality
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 :)
Dec 26, 2014 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2017 Maniuni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartwarming and beautiful.
Ulla-riitta Mankki
An old book, that belonged to my mother. A story of a good priest who spent his life as a missionary in China. A human touch of the writer is recognised as a storyline of this book.
Feb 15, 2017 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be required reading for classic literature courses. Beautiful story.
Mar 16, 2017 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a wonderful book!
Just A. Bean
So I totally read it because of the movie, and I probably enjoyed the movie better, but the book still had the gentle charm and humour, as well as a little more criticism of the Church. It also had Francis Being Right a bit more, which was less enjoyable. The sections with his curacy were probably my favourite.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Nun's Story
  • The Song of Bernadette
  • The Diary of a Country Priest
  • Anthony Adverse (Anthony Adverse, #1-3)
  • Viper's Tangle
  • The God Stealer and Other Stories
  • The Spear: A Novel of the Crucifixion
  • The Mandelbaum Gate
  • Catherine of Siena
  • The Clowns of God (Vatican Trilogy)
  • North of Hope
  • Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy
  • Mr. Blue
  • Catholics
  • Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore / Enrico IV
  • Letters from the Desert
  • The Life of Mary As Seen By the Mystics
  • Kings Row
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...

Share This Book

“Hell is that state where one has ceased to hope.” 41 likes
“Some temptations cannot be fought. One must close one's mind and fly from them” 17 likes
More quotes…