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In This House of Brede
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In This House of Brede

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,707 ratings  ·  266 reviews
This extraordinarily sensitive and insightful portrait of religious life centers on Philippa Talbot, a highly successful professional woman who leaves her life among the London elite to join a cloistered Benedictine community.
Paperback, 672 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Loyola Classics (first published 1969)
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I re-read this book every year or so. The opening scene where the highly successful businesswoman Philippa is giving away treasured possessions which she will no longer need at Brede abbey, draws you right into this story. The community of Benedictine nuns are a fascinating bunch. Flawed yet likeable, they all have their own stories and Godden doesn't underdevelop any of them. I always felt this would make a sensational mini-series. The very good film starring the great Diana Rigg just can't mat ...more
I've read this at least three times before. It's interesting, because I am an atheist, but I find this book fascinating for its characterization of community life, particularly among women. I am interested in the way it explores a "humble" life--a life lived with a purpose other than financial growth or competition. The characters are very well drawn, the interactions are subtle and complex, and the result is a refreshing read.

UPDATE 8/29/07: I just finished this again, and was once more taken w
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Deserving more than 5 Stars

Last year, I saw that one of my Goodreads friend was reading this lengthy novel. I went to Barnes and Noble and found it there. But I didn't immediately open it as I thought I would. It has sat on my shelf staring at me. A few days ago, I pulled down In This House of Brede. I knew I was ready to read it. I had the queer feeling that I needed to read Brede. Perhaps, I know deep down that my Aunt Eloise may not be in this world much longer and that I needed the comfort o
Rumer Godden wrote the gripping 1939 novel Black Narcissus about a group of Anglican nuns who attempt to establish a convent school in a former harem palace in the foothills of the Himalayas, the result of which is failure, insanity, and death. Thirty years later Godden returned to the subject of nuns with In This House of Brede and explored it without much of the popular-fiction melodrama. The book was a best-seller anyway because it is fascinating, but it's less of a novel and more of a profil ...more
Sep 04, 2007 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to escape
Shelves: favorites, dreamlives
This book has profound meaning for's about a group of contemplative nuns. If you've ever gotten sick and tired of living in the mundane world, I highly recommend picking up this book. It shows just how hard nuns work, and how their struggles with each other are no different than the struggles that most people have in modern life. Still, there is something beautiful and holy about THIS HOUSE OF BREDE that makes me want to shuck off my sweat pants and don a habit. Especially when the bills ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Davis
This is Godden's masterwork and I don't say that lightly.

I'm not sure how many times I've read this book ... it could be six or it could be ten. You know a book's a classic when you learn something new about yourself every time you read it. Such was the case this time around also. And it still made me cry at a couple of key points.

It is about nuns in a cloistered convent but don't let that make you think you have to be religious to enjoy it. I read it when I was in my teens because it was aroun
This book taught me a lot about cloister life. After growing up catholic, I wish these nuns were the ones to teach me. Maybe I would still feel like a catholic today. The nuns in the community focused on self-improvement and discipline, hard work, everyone had a function, everyone was needed in the community. Even though the book went into great detail about the daily habits, ceremonies, traditions the nuns kept, it went into little detail about the power of prayer. The author did not quite exac ...more
Kate Quinn
I am neither religious nor Catholic; I abhor the idea of poverty, chastity, or obedience - yet this book made me want to join a nunnery. A fascinating portrayal of the contemplative life. And how nice to read a book about nuns that doesn't center on having a nun fall in love.
Ashley FL
I loved this book. I had feared it would be heavy or require a lot of thought. It did, in fact, cause me to think a lot, but not to try and figure out what happened or what it meant. This was a wonderful study of one woman's life in a monestary. How she decided to enter, the history of her life beforehand, how she lives the rest of her life once she takes her vows.

I also learned a lot about the religion and beliefs of the Benedictine order.

Maybe it just caught me at an opportune time, being righ
I LOVED this book. It is such a faithful, warm and real portrayal of women, women who are very easy to connect with, despite their cloistered life. Rumer G's writing style suited me perfectly. She slips in dialoge in an interesting way, almost like asides, that made me feel like I was a confidant, or I was in the room with the women. There were scenes that made me laugh, that made me cry, times I was shocked and times I felt awe. Just lovely, and perfect for Lent.
Dec 03, 2007 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults
Rumer Godden is a prolific writer who converted to Catholicism as an adult. She is brilliant at character development and her characters are fully fleshed out and so very interesting. In this novel, we follow a woman as she discerns her vocation as a nun. We see her whole life in segments as she learns to adust to her life in cloister. Fabulous read!!!
Sonia Gomes
Mar 09, 2009 Sonia Gomes rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who have a liking for religious orders
Recommended to Sonia by: Carmel College Library
I read this book when I was in my teens, all through the Christmas Vacation of 1972. I neglected my studies, but I do not regret it. I reread it many times and it never fails to grip me and the sheer beauty of the book leaves me in tears.
Philippa Talbot enters the Abbey of Brede when she is successful, at the peak of her career, all her friends are astounded, but for her the life that she had led was simply not enough. Yes, she chooses to leave all her worldly possessions in pursuit of a life as
Advice for future readers:
1. I do not recommend this as the first book by Rumer Godden to read.
2. read the preface
3. read the publisher's note at the end before starting the book. This is glossary/description of the Benedictine Life. I didn't notice it until I'd finished, instead I just read the wikipedia page about Benedictines which isn't as informative.
4. mark the page with the list of characters, you might find it helpful to keep biographical notes, too.

Now, my review:

Another Rumer Godden
Jul 09, 2008 Maryellen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone,
Recommended to Maryellen by: a friend who reads constanatly
I love this book and it is not a subject I was drawn to. It is about a Benedictine Abbey for women and they are contemplative, only see visitors through a grille once they have taken their vows. It is peaceful but the group of nuns create their own enviroment. The main character does not enter the order until she is in her early forties and her adjustment is somewhat difficult. The author is English but lived in India until she was a teenager. She describes the individual sisters and their diffe ...more
Joseph R.
Phillipa Talbot is a successful British woman who is a mid-level bureaucrat in the government, a high position for a woman in the 1950s. Her staff adores her and she has a small set of close friends. But she has a secret--she's been exploring a vocation as a nun at a Benedictine abbey. As the book begins, she tells everyone of her plans, gives away her things, and heads off to Brede Abbey for a completely differently life.

Life at the abbey is difficult for Phillipa. She's much older than the ave
I just loved this. It's a fairly complex novel that interweaves three layers of story: There's the personal journey of Philippa Talbot, a career woman in her forties who enters the cloistered world of a Benedictine monastery; the story of this particular monastery as it buries one abbess and elects a new one; and an exploration of the life in general of a cloistered order, devoted to prayer.
Probably my favorite Godden book though I love them all. She is one of my earliest "adopted" authors whose works I read repeatedly and in as near completion as I can possibly do so -- I will keep searching them out until I've read them all.
Wow, about half way through the book became terrific - it just kind of snuck up on me. Wonderful, beautiful and meaningful.
I re-read this book every few years, when my soul feels dusty.
Absolutely brilliant!!!!!!!
Maureen E
This is, in my opinion, a most enchanting book. It is the story of a number of years in the life of Brede Abbey, a fictional English Catholic woman’s monastery, and the nuns who live there. The book opens very simply with Penny Stevens, the juniorest typist in a government office run by a Mrs. Philippa Talbot, who Penny adores. On this particular day Penny can tell that something is going to happen—namely that Mrs. Talbot has been given a promotion. She is called into Mrs. Talbot’s office where, ...more
What a pleasant and enriching experience it was to step into the world of the Benedictine nuns of Brede Abbey in Sussex, England! Brede Abbey is a fictional place. But what transpires in this lovely novel opens for examination, the very secretive world of the lives of monastic nuns. This story is based on information the author gleaned in visiting several of the Benedictine abbeys in England. Many of the “sisters” that inhabit this tale are based on the lives of the nuns that so willingly shared ...more
I remember seeing my grandmother's paperback version 30 years ago, but didn't read until a few years ago and just re-read it last week. It is an engrossing book detailing the lives of cloistered nuns. It focused on one woman,Phillipa Talbot, a recent convert to Catholicism, who leaves her successful career and enters the convent so she can live her life with integrity and meaning. The book details the nun's day to day life in the convent, and the struggles and issues each has to deal with- famil ...more
Sherry H
In the 1950’s, a successful businesswoman was a rare and precious thing. This book introduces us to the fictional Philippa, just such a woman. Wealthy, fashionable, well-connected Philippa is also a widow, the mother of a deceased child, and a woman with a vocation – she leaves her prosperous and successful London life for the monastic life. She becomes a nun.

This book is a beautiful portrait of religious life.

You’d think that contemplative living would be peaceful and serene. And it is. But Bre
Philippa Talbot was a director at her London office when she announced she was giving up her career. She felt a vocation to religious life and joined the Benedictines at Brede, a ficticious Abbey. The story tracks her life with the Benedictines as well as the other nuns' experiences. We learn about Philippa's secrets and how she meets the challenges that await her. There is a rhythm of life at the Abbey with prayers and chanting at certain times of day, reading, and work. The book follows the nu ...more
A friend recommended Rumer Godden, an author I had never heard about. So I got this book from the library--I had heard of it. I wish I had the one with the Phyllis Tickle introduction because I love her.
This novel is about Benedictine nuns in the convent at Brede (England) in mid-twentieth century. Rumer Godden is one of those authors who can create real characters about whom you can care. Each one of the sisters is flawed and holy. There is enough tension to keep the story going (where will the
So close to five stars. Maybe five. Very much a "people" book, about the interrelation of those in community with one another. It could be family, it could be a workplace (a law firm!), though it actually is a Benedictine convent in England. There are nuns at all stages - postulants (in the initial trial period, determining whether there is truly a vocation), novitiate sisters (having taken temporary vows), dames (solemn vows), and those in leadership - prioress, mother abbess. Think summer asso ...more
Ruby Hollyberry
I first read this book as a kid, and loved it even then. (My mother had a number of great novels about and by women that I read as a preteen, for another example: And Ladies of the Club). I love it even more now. The characters, although appealing, are not really the strong point of the book. I feel that the real strong point is the depiction of religion in daily life, and vice versa, so to speak. The extreme dailiness and ordinariness of most tasks and the link between doing your duty and being ...more
Erica Anne
In This House of Brede, is, like all of Rumer Godden's work which I have read, a gorgeously written book in which goodness fairly leaps off the page, and in which the characters- charming, infuriating, and all of them deeply flawed- are really memorable and irresistibly lovable.

The Loyola Press edition of this book is beautiful: beautifully bound, with a beautiful spine- it looks lovely on my bookshelf. However, the number of proofreading errors inside approaches the absurd- as I went along, I
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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...
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“One of the good things about a Catholic church is that it isn't respectable," she had told Richard. "You can find anyone in it, from duchesses to whores, from tramps to kings.” 9 likes
“Is it easier to be than to do?” 3 likes
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