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Sins of the Father: The Long Shadow of a Religious Cult

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Charismatic, driven and self-righteous, Neville Cooper set up his own brand of Christian utopia on earth: a reclusive community on the West Coast of New Zealand. For the 400 inhabitants of Gloriavale, his word is law – despite his 1995 conviction for sexual abuse.

His son Phil Cooper, as headstrong as his father, had to escape. But Phil's wife Sandy was bound to the will of
Paperback, 232 pages
Published April 17th 2009 by Longacre Press (first published 2009)
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Beaulah Pragg
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
With Sins of the Father, Fleur Beale paints an emotionally gripping and incredibly enlightening picture of the difficulty of leaving such an isolated community and the pain of leaving loved ones behind.

An excellent resource for anyone who wonders why people in cults (and other close, pressured social groups or organizations) don't 'just leave' and how they could possibly go back once they are out.

Reading this book was a very personal experience for me, as I was born in a cult modelled very much
Peter Walton-Jones
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
"The Long Shadow of a Religious Cult" is the by-line. This refers to the influence that the Gloriavale commune (under the leadership of Neville Cooper) has on its members and particularly on the family members of Cooper himself as they have sought to separate themselves from the sect. The reach and the influence of the Cooperites is very powerful and he level of control over the people is disturbing. I am sure there are many wonderful things being done by and at Gloriavale but the disregard for ...more
Apr 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting read. I'm quite fascinated with the idea of religion (as a non religious person myself), and the idea of a cult-like community living in New Zealand really intrigues me. It was definitely interesting to read about the community's beginnings through the eyes of Phil Cooper (the son of the founder), and I think it was a more accurate portrayal than that of the TV documentaries, as, though those are educational and entertaining, they show a very tame view on the negative areas of Gloria ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was such a great topical read. With Gloriavale currently in the media for all the bad things it does it was nice to get the background of it and to get an in depth look. I love to read about cults, I find them so fascinating so this was obviously gonna be a hit with me. Having read Fleur Beale's 2 fiction books about a cult I knew she would do Phil Cooper's story justice and she definitely has.
Well recommended if you want to read a true story about a cult.
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and scary insight into the origins of the closed conservative Christian cult that lives at Gloriavale, their compound in a remote part of the South Island, New Zealand. The book delves into the ongoing traumatic effects attempts to leave have had on the children & grandchildren of the cult's leader.

I understood there had been some untoward goings-on by their leader, Neville Cooper/Hopeful Christian and that he was a convicted paedophile. I did not, however, realise he served a pathet
Raquel Moss
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting and compelling story; dull and stilted writing.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
An incredibly truthful and non sensationalised view of the struggle to remove oneself and ones family from a cult. It shares the moral viewpoint of the escapee and his family and is very honest about the very real and difficult struggles to be free and to choose ones own path and the incredibly painful decisions that often felt like the wrong thing. The cults leader was the father and grandfather of the authors. It shares examples of conditional and unconditional love plus support from some trem ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not a great work of literature. It's not even that interesting. But I loved how matter-of-factly it was written. I loved how the author didn't try too hard to manipulate the information into me feeling one way or another. As many other reviewers have noted, this is the story of a family - a mess of a family - not the story of Gloriavale. You will learn very little about Gloriavale by reading this book.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really fascinating read (especially since I read Lilia's book not that long ago). I have always been fascinated by cults and extreme religious behavior, so I love reading true accounts of life inside them. Also Fleur Beale is amazing and one of my favourite NZ authors so it's a winning combination.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A well written story considering the amount of information that had to come across.
A good insight into the power and control people can hand over without relising it.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quite fascinating!
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was compelled to read this book after watching a television documentary on the Gloriavale community in New Zealand. I had been disturbed by what I'd seen, and was keen to gain a deeper understanding of the people living in this community, and how it came to be. Unfortunately, the book did not meet my expectations.

Although the content of "Sins of the Father" was interesting enough to hold my attention, I did not find myself connected to either the narrator or the people in the story. I couldn't
Both a story of tragedy and a story of overcoming a massive bad start. It's the true story of the son of the leader of a New Zealand cult (which I believe is still in existence). As a grown man with 5 or was it 6 children, he decides to get out, rather sadly his wife is so indoctrinated she stays. This is the story both of how he got his children out and how they learned to deal with life in the outside world. (The cult imposed everything from a uniform for both men and women to basically not be ...more
Tara Calaby
I think the trouble with this book is that the author has tried so hard to include the memories and beliefs of everyone she worked with that it ends up feeling a little stilted. It's interesting, because Beale is very careful not to make any judgements herself, although it's quite obvious that some of the people she's talking about see things differently!

I have to admit that I probably would have enjoyed this more if I had found it easier to like Phil. Although his upbringing has obviously influ
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting read as I had some prior knowledge of the existence of this community but didn't know details. This book provided them and was easy to read although I found the writing style a little strange, it was kind of half factual details being listed about someone and half engaging storytelling from inside that person's experience. It did well at showing just how impossible a situation people can be in when choosing to leave, and how indoctrination can be so effective at holding people in. ...more
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Heartbreaking and hopeful. The story of a man who took his kids and left behind the religious community where he had been raised by his father, the founder of the community; leaving his wife, despite repeated attempts to get her to make a life with them outside the community. An unfinished story of inspiring courage, simply and effectively told.
Zippster G
Interesting story albeit the writing was extremely simple and at times slightly annoying. Upon further reflection, I believe that a more complicated writing style would of overshadowed the story. I would like to believe that the author kept it simple so the reader was able to fully grasp the seriousness of the story of this remarkable family.
Jul 29, 2011 added it
I was looking for the nitty gritty of the cooperrites. I live in the district and the cooperrites are quite the topic of conversation. I was slightly dissappointed that the down and dirty of this cult was merely skimmed over and it was more the plight of an escaped family and their ordeals overcoming the sect and making a life for themselves.
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. Great inside to Gloriavale Christian community and the mind of someone in a cult under a person like a dictator. Extremely interesting especially about traits passed on through family (neville to Phil)
May 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
This was a really interesting read - I hadn't really heard about this whole Gloriavale business, but after having just read Fleur Beale's YA fiction book "I Am Not Esther", the similarities made me want to read this. It's even more fascinating because it's true.
Zoe Juniper
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow this stuff goes on in NZ! It's an amazing story of one man giving his children the right to freedom of choice. It's amazing how precious that is when you look at the set up of this and no doubt many similar cults and how they prey on the week minded.
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have a vague feeling that i have read this book before, but it must have been a while ago (or it was another book by someone else similarly involved in the Cooperite sect), because there were some moments that were absolutely jaw-dropping in their appalingness.
Jul 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Disturbing...... but very good:)
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Fascinating story, but this is one of the most badly written books I have ever read, hence my low rating.
Christina Evans
rated it it was amazing
Oct 12, 2013
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Aug 06, 2014
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Nov 05, 2018
Becky Falloon
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Aug 28, 2016
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Jul 22, 2010
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Dec 01, 2017
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Fleur Beale is the author of many award-winning books for children and young adults, best known for her novel I am not Esther which has been published worldwide.

Beale was one of six children of a dairy farmer Cedric Corney and of a teacher and author Estelle Corney (née Cook). She was born in Inglewood, Taranaki, New Zealand, on the farm where her father was born. Beale grew up in the town before

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