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The Keys of the Kingdom

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  2,193 ratings  ·  201 reviews
Francis Chisholm is a compassionate and humble priest whose individuality and directness make him unpopular with other clergy. Considered a failure by his superiors, he is sent to China to maintain a mission amid desperate poverty, civil war, plague, and the hostility of his superiors. In the face of this constant danger and hardship, Father Chisholm finds the keys to the ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Loyola Classics (first published 1941)
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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)

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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  2,193 ratings  ·  201 reviews

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Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: clean, historical
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 bei
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 charac
Natalie Ethington
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kris, Christianne, Michelle, Helen
Recommended to Deyanne by: Lydia
I was ready for a book recommended for "innate goodness" and this worked! I would probably have scored it a 4.5, but I am rating up for the lasting value of this novel. A dear Russian friend recommended it as one of her all time favorite English reads. It did take me a little while to get caught-up in it. I felt at the beginning like I was revisiting Dicken's young Pip or David Copperfield. The setting and background were stark and the people indigent, but the trials and tribulations forged a m ...more
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
Nelleke Plouffe
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again Cronin does not disappoint. While I do not agree with the universalism preached in this book, it is still a beautiful picture of the value of personal integrity, and of Christ-like loving and giving of self. I highly recommend this author.
Mar 05, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ho
Sep 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Deeply moving and some pretty serious stuff in it at times, all full of heart and inspiring to this reader. I dragged out the last couple chapters because I was so sorry to sense the end of the book coming. I was also finding myself heaving a sigh of relief when it ended. I would sort of like to read more by this author...but not anytime soon.
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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.

Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A moving story, that helps you to grow as a person as you flip each page.

Francis Chisholm's life is separated into two parts, it seems to me. There was his happy childhood and the love of his life who could not be his; then on to becoming a dedicated Catholic priest and missionary.

“....I must record this inescapable sense of belonging to God, which strikes at me through the darkness, the deep conviction....”

I love the details of his life. The story told how he would venture to the churc/>
Thora Crowley
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This’s book was written by a well known author at the time in 1941. Set in Scotland it follows the life of a man who had a very difficult childhood and tries to find true and honest happiness. It was well written and kept me interested to the end.
Jul 23, 2012 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
Nov 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
A compelling description of honest spirituality
Jul 24, 2014 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 rated it liked it
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 somethi
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like most people I suppose, I was familiar with the story “the keys of the kingdom“ from the 1944 movie starring Gregory pack. I was recommended the book by my uncle, and got it for my birthday this year. The story follows the life of a Scottish priest named father Chisholm who has a somewhat reluctant vocation, and early career as a curate marked by personality conflict with his superiors, and ending up getting sent to the mission field in China indefinitely. All of this of course takes up roug ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Christians will relate to this story much more than I did.
I loved the characterization and description in this novel. Francis is an utterly good person devoted to his ministry, selfless, hard working, and resilient throughout his challenging life. His faith and love of humanity seem indestructible. Still, I grew weary of all the calamities that befell him in China while he was on his Catholic mission to save the infidels...wars, plague, famines, natural disasters, political upheavals etc
Jack Castillo
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Have you ever read a book and get into the first hundred pages or so and think "damn, this story sounds so familiar but I know I haven't read this book before". That happened to me with The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J.Cronin. Turns out it was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck and Vincent Price, I watched it as a kid on the Bill Kennedy Show in Detroit, probably on a day I acted sick to cop a day off from school. Kennedy hosted an afternoon program that showed old movies; I loved his show an ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you just want a character in a story that you can look up to, love, and emulate. Father Francis Chisholm is such a character. Caring more about the welfare of the suffering, more about converting true believers rather than getting numbers by any means, sacrificing himself to bring aid and light to others, the higher-ups in the church see him as a failure. From his childhood to young adulthood, tragic love story to determination to serve God, 30 years in China creating a thriving missio ...more
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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 television and rad ...more
“Hell is that state where one has ceased to hope.” 43 likes
“Some temptations cannot be fought. One must close one's mind and fly from them” 18 likes
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