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The Kappillan of Malta

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  313 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
As bombs pound Malta to dust, Father Salvatore--a simple priest, or kappillan, serving the poor--finds himself caught in the drama of World War Two. In the fragile safety of catacombs revealed by the explosions, he tends to the flood of homeless, starving, and frightened people seeking shelter, giving messages of inspiration and hope. His story, and that of the island, unf
Hardcover, 503 pages
Published March 1st 1974 by William Morrow & Co
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Strikingly powerful novel about a Catholic Priest (Kappillan) on Malta, wrestling with his faith, his family and World War Two. Father Salvadore's homilies to the community sheltering from Italian and German bombing in the catacombs take the form of histories of the islands during some of its greatest trials. Labeled "Hexamerons", after the six parts of Genesis, it would be insulting to call them Michener-esque (Monsarrat is the far better writer), they begin in 1500 B.C., threading through St. ...more
Helen Strobridge
Whilst spending the winter on Malta I sought out some books set there. This is quite a struggle to read at times, telling not only a story of Malta under siege in WWII, but also extracts from various earlier periods in its history. However, as Malta has had such a long, complicated & dramatic history it is quite an achievement to get so many historical events in to one book.

After a slow start I really got into the WWII part of the story, which spells out just how horrific life on Malta was
Rose Boehm
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't really want to write a review of this amazing book, but here goes: The story is fascinating, the writing is just gorgeous - every word, every sentence counts - and all protagonists are loved. There is gentle humour, deep feeling and much information. It's an extraordinary book about an extraordinary place in extraordinary times, when lives where cheap and yet the simple joy of living more often than not won the day.

But it's not just about Malta in the Second World War. It's about the Ma
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having been to Malta and interested in its history this book is very good read and very enlightening about a very bad time in Malta's history.
Jeanette Hall
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story of a priest on the Island of Malta during the war - I really couldn't put this book down. Having been to the Island, it really bought it back to life for me
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was recommended to me while I was visiting Malta, and I am SO sorry that I've got to the end! Possibly only of initial interest to visitors and/or those with an interest in military matters, but this story of a priest in Valletta during the Second World War (an unlikely subject for my usual reading!) has opened my eyes to the cross-currents of history around the Mediterranean. Well written and highly recommended.
Vsevolod Zubarev
Well-written historical novel about a priest on Malta during the WWII bombings.

Read this if you're going to visit Malta.
Gijs Grob
The tiny state of Malta is not blessed with too many novels taking place on its islands, but with 'The Kappillan of Malta' it at least has its very own "Great Maltese Novel", for Monsarrat does not only tell of the title priest, he has clearly tried to squeeze the history of Malta, its people and their spirit conveniently into the novel, often too obviously so.

The novel follows Father Salvatore, a priest who takes care of the war victims, on six eventful days during World War II, in which Malta
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Malta is a fascinating island with a long history. One thing that stands out is the ability to resist annexation or to recover from it. In this novel, Malta’s history is retold.

The structure is quiet interesting: the frame story tells how the author found out about the story he is telling. Then there is the actual story, which re-tells six days of the Kappillan in World War II, when Malta was bombed by the Italians. At the end of each day, the Kappillan finds his way into the catacombs, the shel
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are going to Malta,buy this.

Having been wed in Malta this May, it was always going to have a special place in my heart but it greatly exceeded my expectations. The beautiful Mediterranean climate, the fantastic coastline and the magnificent Valletta. However what really captured me was the astonishingly rich history of the little island. That such a small place could play such a pivotal role in the history of the world. This book pays tribute to that history in a wonderful story of a humb
Jim Vuksic
First Published in 1973, "The Kappillan of Malta" quickly became an international bestseller.
In this story about a Catholic priest, referred to as a kappillan, on Malta during the first two years (1940 - 1942) of World War II, the author effectively captures the inner conflict, frustration, and despair of a man valiantly trying to shed his aristocratic background and focus upon serving and protecting the poor, terrified population of this tiny island nation at the height of Nazi Germany's power
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful multifaceted book which on one level tells the story of an old Maltese family and on another tackles two aspects of Malta's history, (a) the procession of nations which sailed to Malta and took up residence there from earliest times to WWII, and (b) the island's tribulations throughout WWII in a very readable way. I've read it four times in the last 10 months or so - but then I'm going to Malta for the first time soon. It does take a while to see the author's over-arching pla ...more
Oct 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc
At first, I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. It's quite wordy, and goes into a lot of detail that at first seems irrelevant. However, as it went on, I started to really want to know what was going to happen to the characters, and quite enjoyed it by the time it was over. The book takes place in Malta during WWII, and often reads like a history of the war. Since I like history, it's made me interested to know the facts of how the war affected Malta, which I knew almost nothing about bef ...more
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book about four or five years ago. I felt like reading it again which is unusual for me to want to read a book again. I could not remember the title-just the story. Somehow I happened on a website for a bookstore in Malta that listed the e-mail address so I contacted them to ask. They suggested a title and sent me to another website and surprise...I found it under a list of OTHER recommended books! Can't wait to pick it up again. Hope I am not disappointed.
A colleague of mine recommended this book. The story has many interesting aspects, including a great deal about the history of Malta. The hero is a priest who is a devoted shepherd of the terrified residents of the island during World War II.

The writing is crisp and descriptive.

Where I got unsettled was with some anti-Jewish overtones the author inserts when telling some of the story.

Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't exactly a page-turner. I had heard it gave a good overview of the two sieges of Malta. And it did, framed in a story about a priest who helped his flock through the WWII bombing Malta experienced. I would recommend it as an introduction to Maltese history. Ended up reading most of it AFTER I returned from a lovely Malta vacation; now I want to go back. Good way to learn basic Maltese history in a pleasant way.
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book, well written telling three stories:
1) the smuggles of a priest with a deep faith, an amazing compassion and enduring the physical and spiritual difficulties only a saint person can overcome
2) the grueling siege of Malta of WW2 thru the lives of a Priest and very different characters
3) the history of Malta, destined because of its geographic position to the the object of superhuman struggles,
Niall Fitzpatrick
There are few places in the world with so much history crammed into one place and this book is a very enjoyable narrative that helps understand that heritage without getting bogged down in any one historical period. As a reader it's easy to place yourself in the catacombs amongst those seeking refuge from the constant bombing and being comforted by the humble Kappillan recounting stories of ancient and recent trials that little Malta has survived. A very rewarding read.
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this soon after its publication and a series of excellent reviews.
Several stories in one: the priest himself, with his difficulties of faith and belief is a lovely, fascinating character. There is the WWll battle for Malta, graphically described, and explaining the Island's receipt of the George Cross. And the stories told by the priest to keep up morale, telling of Malta's difficult past.
Well worth persevering with.
Brenda Funk
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written, fascinating story-telling! Especially good to read if, as I did, you spend a little time in Malta. Never knew of the crucial role the little island played in WWII, not to mention in many conflicts before this. Great historical novel, written by one who was there, based on fact. Loved it.
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Having recently been on holiday to Malta and having visited gozo I wanted to learn something of the history of Malta a saw this book while visiting St. Elmos fort . Very interesting and educational and a tribute to all the Maltese who have suffered over the centuries. I loved t book a love the country.
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book. It was different from the usual stuff that I am drawn to. The book has two threads. One is about the WWII siege of Malta, told through six important days in the life of a local Catholic priest. The other thread is a history of Malta, told through six pivotal moments in her history, when personal bravery made a difference. Well constructed, good characters. Long.
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
I'd forgotten what an extraordinarily good writer Monsarrat is. He's excellent at characterisation and setting, and makes finding out what happens next irresistible (I read The Cruel Sea in a sitting). I learned a great deal about wartime Malta, and it made me keen to visit the island.
Joe Borg
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very good book by a non-Maltese offering a kaleidoscope on Maltese history , this book is a must for all persons wishing to get to know about the Island and its people. If I had known about its content I would have read this book.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful retelling of Malta's incredible history told through the eyes of a beloved parish priest who tirelessly served the ordinary citizens of Malta, giving them hope when all appeared hopeless during the dark and wretched days of WWII.
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good story that stays with you. Doesn't have a tidy ending, but lots of connections are made. Really brought back Malta for me.
This is a well written, literary book, not a quick read. It needs and deserves to be read properly.
Sharon Burgin
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a regular visitor to Malta I have visited many post war sites and museums. But you never got a proper feel of how it was for the residents of Malta during WW2.

This book brought it home, the constant bombing, the lack of food, how life still goes on!

A must read book.
John Hammer
Read this book after a short stay in Malta. Interesting way to tell the history of Malta, though it is quite slow moving. The main character is almost too finely crafted and the main plot plods along through some pretty bad times in Malta's WWII history.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book that brings World War II in the Mediterranean to life. Being Maltese it was fascinating to 'see' what Malta and the people went through at that time. Highly recommended read.
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apres avoir vu ce livre dans tous les magasins sur Malta au mois de Mars, le temps était finalement venu pour le lire. Un vrai soap-opera de la deuxième guerre mondiale, ce «Great Maltese Novel » des années 70 est divertissant et séduisant pour tous ceux qui s’intéressent pour Malta.
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Born on Rodney Street in Liverpool, Monsarrat was educated at Winchester and Trinity College, Cambridge. He intended to practise law. The law failed to inspire him, however, and he turned instead to writing, moving to London and supporting himself as a freelance writer for newspapers while writing four novels and a play in the space of five years (1934–1939). He later commented in his autobiograph ...more
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