Julie Davis's Reviews > The Quiet Light

The Quiet Light by Louis de Wohl
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Jun 18, 13

Read from June 11 to 18, 2013

Having finished G.K. Chesterton's The Dumb Ox for my book club, I thought it would be good supplementary material to read a more straight forward biography of this saint. hesterton is amusing and clever and did a fine job of making me appreciate Aquinas, but he obviously was counting on the reader to already know the basics. As I know only a smattering of legends, I needed more! Based on reading de Wohl's The Restless Flame about Augustine, I thought he'd be a good source for Aquinas's life story.

I chose wisely, because I thoroughly enjoyed The Quiet Light, which spent as much time on the Aquino family and their Holy Roman Emperor problems as it did on youngest, determined son Thomas. My admiration for De Wohl only increased as I saw how he used both storylines to paint a full picture of the times. Thomas in Paris proved, as his teacher Albert the Great predicted, that "this dumb ox" had a roar that would be heard throughout the world, while English knight Piers headed off to (St.) King Louis's court in Paris. Simultaneously St. Bonaventure was being called upon to defend the Franciscans. I had no idea that all these saints were contemporaneous. I especially appreciated the rare mentions of Aquinas and Bonaventure's mutual respect and friendship, always coupled with how very different both were from each other.

On a personal level, I was inspired by Thomas's ability to let insults slide off, simply ignoring them. This goes hand-in-hand with reading Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word about the beatitude discussing meekness. It said that meekness is not being a doormat but is the ability to always be open to the opportunity to do good, to turn evil into a work for God. Methinks there is a very powerful message for me in all this.

I am not sure when De Wohl wrote this in relation to his book about St. Augustine, but this one showed considerably more expertise in conveying information while keeping the reader engaged. Although St. Thomas is seen relatively rarely in the overall story, it has the effect of making the impact much greater. I may never forget the vivid description of him dismantling the opposition's faulty treatise in front of the board of cardinals. I read it three times for the beauty and clarity of the passages.

Highly recommended.
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Reading Progress

06/11/2013 marked as: currently-reading
06/17/2013 page 325
86.0% "One of the things I love most about this book is how the action spirals around Thomas but we do not actually see him that often. What we see is his influence on his family and friends as they later suddenly realize the quiet comments they nay-sayed were actually deeply profound. This also makes me very interested in the relatively rare moments when Thomas is center stage."
06/18/2013 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Terry (new)

Terry Southard This was the first DeWohl book I read. It may still be my very favorite. The scene of Thomas' death nearly undid me - when the confessor ran out in tears, "The confession of a five year old....." Oh, my. I may need to reread, ASAP!


message 2: by Melanie (new)

Melanie I still haven't read this one. Must check it out.


Julie Davis I have requested his book about St. Benedict next. I'm curious to see how he handles a more barbaric background than I've encountered with Augustine and Aquinas.

However, the greatest tribute is that I now feel a real, greater connection with both of those saints.


message 4: by Manny (new)

Manny I have only read de Wohl's book on Catherine of Siena, but honestly I wasn't wild about the style... just seems to fall a little too neatly into the "holy card saint" stereotype with a few literary flourishes to keep the plot moving forward.

That being said, I'm interested to hear opinions on his other works, to judge if it was just that particular work that put me off, or if it's really his style that rubs me the wrong way.


Julie Davis Manny wrote: "I have only read de Wohl's book on Catherine of Siena, but honestly I wasn't wild about the style... just seems to fall a little too neatly into the "holy card saint" stereotype with a few literary..."

Augustine certainly wasn't presented as a "holy card saint." :-)

Though, as I say, he's no Samuel Shellabarger. But, really, who is?


message 6: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Julie wrote: "I have requested his book about St. Benedict next. I'm curious to see how he handles a more barbaric background than I've encountered with Augustine and Aquinas.

However, the greatest tribute is ..."


I really felt a much stronger connection to St Francis Xavier when I read that book.


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