Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy
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Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  395 ratings  ·  60 reviews
This haunting tale of shame and redemption is the story of Lise Fanshawe, prostitute and brothel manager in postwar Paris, murderer and prisoner, and, finally, a Catholic nun in an order dedicated to serving people on the margins of society. Rumer Godden, author of the masterwork In This House of Brede, tells an inspiring and entirely convincing conversion story that shows...more
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published October 30th 1979 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 1979)
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Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy refers to the total number of decades in the complete rosary—fifteen ... as it used to be before the addition of the five Luminous Mysteries. It is also Rumer Godden’s title for an incredible book about the lives of women, real women—suffering, tainted, fallen women, modern-day Mary Magdalenes. It is fiction and yet it is set in a very real historical context and based on an actual order of nuns, the Sisters of Bethany, many of whom were former prostitutes and prison...more
Stunning. Not many writers can match Godden’s ability to weave seamlessly back and forth between past and present within a single phrase, a single sentence, or a single paragraph, and yet maintain tightly woven and purposeful threads between them all. But isn’t this what life is...a daily walk in the present, toward the future, with shades and memories of the past…some invited and yet others arise which are clearly unwanted and intrusive?

It is true that in Five for Sorrow, Godden masterfully il...more
Andrea Hickman Walker
Religious people fascinate me. I am drawn to the religious life (by which I mean monks and nuns), but to a large degree I can understand them. What I don't understand is blind faith. I don't understand why people believe the things they do (and what is it that I believe? Do I believe anything?). Which is why they fascinate me. So when I pick up a book at random and find it involves religious themes, I devour it hoping for greater understanding of such a large proportion of the planet.

Which is wh...more
It's not quite In This House of Brede, but what an interesting slice of religious life from Rumer Godden. This one is about Béthanie, an order of nuns seemingly culled mostly from French prisons. The order's work in the community focuses on imprisoned women, and most if not all of the nuns have spurious pasts--but once they enter the convent, they shed that previous identity. The book follows Lise, who was one of Paris' best-known madams, but who discovers her vocation while serving a jail sente...more
Marjorie Campbell
While Godden's In This House of Brede is touted as her premiere Catholic work of fiction, I find Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy a real "competitor". Part of the fabulous Loyola Classic series, this tale of redemption jumps between brothel, prison and chapel, from pimp to priest, to unravel the engaging saga of Lisa Fanshawe. The mystery of this woman's vocation to younger women winds through combating forces - always with a remarkable compassion that contrasts the suffering of darkness and the rel...more
Oct 11, 2007 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone seeking spiritual redemption
This book reminds me of why I have such a deep, abiding love for the Catholic Church. It's the story of a woman who travels to hell and back, finding redemption in a convent. If you think nuns are naive, quaint, and innocent, you'll change your mind after reading this book. I've always been grateful to Rumer Godden for depicting The Brides of Christ in such a perceptive, well-rounded way.
Julie Davis
Getting ready to reread this for our book club's next discussion, I realized I'd never posted my review here.
"I took Vivi home." Why? Lise had asked herself a thousand times. "There's a little church in England," she told Soeur Marie Alcide, "at Southleigh in Oxfordshire, which has an old, old mural painting showing a winged Saint Michael holding the scales of justice. The poor soul awaiting judgment is quailing because the right-hand scale is coming heavily down with its load of sins: but on th
Alun Williams
Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy book describes how a "nice" English girl called Elizabeth Fanshawe is drawn into prostitution in a high-class Parisian bordel by the charming but unscrupulous and abusive Patrice, how and why she then commits a violent crime for which she is sent to prison for a long period, and how she ultimately finds redemption as Soeur Lise of the "Sisters of Bethany" (an order of nuns which really exists).

The book is much darker than most of Ms Godden's works, though the descrip...more
I found this book on the 50-cent outdoor bookshelf at our town's used bookstore. I love a children's story by this author (The Story of Holly and Ivy) and I plan to read her novel about a convent someday (In This House of Brede), so this book caught my eye. This 1979 novel follows a young girl in France who ends up in brothel, then in prison, then in a convent where she becomes a nun. The Sisters of Bethany are an actual order of nuns, many of whom were formerly prostitutes or prisoners. The sto...more
Darker and more intense than In This House of Brede, but nonetheless an excellent tale of sin and redemption. Lise Fanshawe finds herself called to join an order of Dominican nuns after concluding a life of sin and prostitution with a stint in prison. But for better and for worse, her past follows her beyond the walls of the monastery.

The sections of the book written from Lise's perspective--both the current timeline and her remembrances--are interspersed with the inner monologue of Vivi, a youn...more
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Christian Engler
To be a nun means to occupy a very special and committed role in society. It is definitely a unique calling when a woman accepts to be a special witness and bearer to the truth of Jesus Christ. Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy is not a novel purely about nuns, per se, although it does play a significant part. Rather it is about people, their humanity - and sometimes their lack of it - as well as their redemption, for even religious people require the latter.

The novel centers on the Sisters of Bethan...more
Godden had a gift for writing books about religious subjects in a way that interests even non-religious me. Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy is one of those books (along with the marvelous In This House of Brede and the very good Black Narcissus).

Lise is an English girl who falls into bad company in Paris after the end of World War II and becomes madam of a successful brothel; eventually, she commits a crime and is sentenced to prison for fifteen years, where she encounters the Sisters of Béthanie,...more
This is the story of the main character, Lise, that artfully starts at the end of world war II in France and the streets are flooded with celebration. She has nowhere to go and is helped by a well dressed gentleman who leads her to a large house where she finds herself in a brothel with ensuing very interestig non-sexual relationships, then beng released from prison, then as aspirant at Bethani Convent with wonderful in-between parts too. Part of the story she is relating to a priest. Rumer Godd...more
I didn't think this could be better than In this House of Brede, but it is 10x more powerful and moving.
Julia Tracey
Very much like In This House of Brede, with a protagonist, Lise, who is a former prostitute, madam, and murderer, who joins a convent and finds her way to peace. Very gritty and in-your-face real in both the convent and the world of sex for sale. I found this earthier than I expected, with a purpose. Never vulgar. I found myself enjoying Godden's future perfect tense, although it is strange. There are flash forwards and flash backs, on top of each other; the sense of time is elastic. I liked thi...more
Skylar Hatfield
I find reading Rumer Godden's novels difficult but worth the work. Though this book is about Catholic nuns, it deals with very modern crisis. My lack of knowledge of the Catholic vocabulary and the French language may have left some holes in my comprehension of this story. Yet I could relate to Lise struggle to free herself from the world and sin. Though this is a religious book, it contains scenes and details that are not for the young reader.
This book is about a nice English girl who ends up as a Madam in a house of prostitution in Paris shortly after World War II. Later, she is arrested for the murder of the owner of the brothel and while in prison is attracted to an order of Catholic nuns, the Sisters of Bethany. These Sisters, many of them former prostitutes and prisoners themselves, help her to recognize her need for God. The novel is based on a true stories.
Different feel and tone than “In This House of Brede”, but still well done. Half, if not more, of the book is about Lise’s life before she enters the convent. Only towards the end do we get to see her life in the convent, but even then her past is takes center stage at moments.

There were just a few moments that felt bit odd and possibly critical of the church, but overall it was very well written and interesting.
Inspiring reading of a sort that has not been popular since the 1960's (Godden wrote this in 1979, when novels and memoirs with conversion themes were less popular than they had been). Still, it's a good example of the always-popular redemption story in the great Catholic tradition: sinner finds faith and devotes herself to God. My Fawcett paperback edition would have benefited from editing and proof reading.
I just discovered the Loyola Classics series and it includes a number of books that I loved but have been unable to find. My husband brought this one to me in the hospital recently and I found myself wrapped in the thought of what it means to be a person of faith. As someone who struggles with faith myself, this helps me realize I'm not alone.
This book is about nuns in a convent in France who minister to women in prison. It's about three prisoners in particular and how their paths lead them to the convent. I enjoyed the book and the intermingling of subplots. It does jump back and forth in time which is not a particular writing style I enjoy but overall a good book.
Another strong argument for half stars on Goodreads. This is better than three, but not quite a four star read.
For me, Godden ends her books very strongly, but it takes awhile for me to get into her books. This one followed the pattern. Interesting story line, and strong faith is woven throughout.
The book jacket says "splendid novel". I agree.
Rumer Godden does an amazing job of shifting narrators and jumping around in time while advancing her very interesting plot and making us want to know what happened to our heroine. Knowing some French will make the book even more enjoyable.
Brenda Clough
Once you've read IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE, this book is the natural for your next fix of Rumer Godden writing about nuns. I am not sure that her take on the French demi-monde is not a little cliched, but it doesn't matter. Still a wonderful book.
Kathleen Cummings
This was recommended to me by a friend who was surprised I never read it. It is a powerful story about redemption and joy set mostly in a covent in postwar France. This is the first book I have read by Rumer Gooden but it won't be the last.
Sara Klinges
I never in a million years ever thought I would love a story about nuns, but this book is so much more than that. Most descriptions on the book covers call it "haunting" and it truly is.
Happy to be finished this one, so I won't have Counting Crows stuck in my head anymore. I preferred "In This House of Brede". This was too sensational.
This is a beautiful book about redemption. It is refreshing to read a book that treats religious faith without cynicism or hostility.
Julia H
Beautiful....touches on many of the same themes as In This House of Brede, although perhaps not in as sophisticated a manner.
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She was born in Sussex, England, but grew up in India, in Narayanganj. Many of her 60 books are set in India. Black Narcissus was made into a famous movie with Deborah Kerr in 1947.

Godden wrote novels, poetry, plays, biographies, and books for children.

For more information, see the official website: Rumer Godden
More about Rumer Godden...
The Story of Holly and Ivy In This House of Brede The Dolls' House The Greengage Summer Miss Happiness and Miss Flower

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