Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In This House of Brede” as Want to Read:
In This House of Brede
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

In This House of Brede

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  4,596 ratings  ·  695 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 January 1st 1969)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about In This House of Brede, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rachel "The Corner that Held Them" by Sylvia Townsend Warner is about another monastery/convent in the 13th century in the aftermath of the Black Death. It's…more"The Corner that Held Them" by Sylvia Townsend Warner is about another monastery/convent in the 13th century in the aftermath of the Black Death. It's a weird, funny book, definitely not spiritual in the sense of proselytising. Also second Black Narcissus.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,596 ratings  ·  695 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of In This House of Brede
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Cindy Rollins
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is an astonishingly good book. I did not love the theme at all at first. I wanted to scream at Philippa not to join a monastery. It felt like the rest of the book could not possibly be interesting and yet, it was often quite exciting. By page 200 I would call this a page-turner, and yet why? Only surprisingly wonderful writing.

My favorite part of this book was the grace shown to the failures of many of the women and how God worked all things together for good in realistic ways in each of t
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

A Goodreads friend (Barb) said about Rumer Godden that she never wrote the same book twice.

I very much agree with this sentiment! Godden is a gifted writer with a fantastic imagination, who seems to go where the story takes her.

So I was expecting this to be Phillipa's Story, a middle aged career woman who found a vocation &, after giving away all her possessions, joins a Benedictine monastery.

But this story is much more than that and details the lives and often very human frailties of the nu
Aug 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Kate Quinn
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Julie Davis
It's been too long since I've reread this. It was just what I needed.


A Good Story is Hard to Find #97). Let's face it. Reading In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden is the closest either Julie or Scott will come to being cloistered nuns


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. Su
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
I remember watching the movie first as a girl. A very youthful Diana Rigg plays Philippa who gives up everything to enter Brede. Later when I was older, I read the book, but I don't remember when and unfortunately I didn't write it down. It's an excellent study of women's spirituality, women living in community, one particular woman's journey, friendship and the essential nature of human relationships to our Divine Creator. It's a beautiful and haunting book. I've returned to it at various times ...more
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Ladies and gentlemen, I am ready to comment on the great discussion in this book. This reading was proposed by Mari Angels and in my opinion it has been quite a success, and an excellent proposition. At first I did not intend to write a review of this novel, since at first I found it more pressing to comment on a book that displeased me in this case we mean the "SapphireBook" by Gilbert Sinoue which again abounds in the topics of the Black Legend, I also ...more
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge
I read this book following a personal recommendation, and I'm very pleased that I did read it. What I do know is that without this recommendation I probably wouldn't have looked at this book.

That is because of the subject matter i.e. life for nuns in a Benedictine monastery. It's to the credit of the author that I found the book interesting, and the characters believable and well rounded. I enjoyed reading about the various rituals, although my favourite parts of the book were actually the aut
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sonia Gomes
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who have a liking for religious orders
Recommended to Sonia by: Carmel College Library
I read this book in my teens, all through the Christmas Vacation of 1972. I neglected my studies, but have never regretted it. I have reread it many times and it never fails to grip me, 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, leaving her friends astounded.
The life that she had led, so far, was simply not enough. Yes, she chooses to leave all her worldly possessions in pursuit of a life as a Cloi
Rick Slane
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am currently looking for books that aren't about war, concentration camps or genocide, since I feel I've read enough of them recently. This was a book recommended to me by the Goodreads Bot because I read Kristin Lavransdatter and Island of the World both Catholic books. I'm not Catholic, but I enjoyed all three books very much. Why would a 40 year old woman with a successful career want to become a nun? The answer unfolds slowly and gently along with at least two other engrossing subplots. If ...more
Julie  Durnell
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful story of life in a Benedictine abbey. The hierarchy of the nuns/sisters/dames was very interesting and how each woman brought something of themselves into this religious order and learned to surrender and serve made this enjoyable to read. Phillipa was somewhat of an enigma but she carries this story wonderfully.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this back in 2006 or soon after it was published.

When I was a girl I read several biographies of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (took her name for my Confirmation name) and also much about the Carmelite cloisters of France- and how she had lived her life. It is not that dissimilar (different era, different context of knowledge maybe)than this woman's experience. And I also went to Catholic All GIRLS High School at the same location as the Sisters of Mercy Novitiate near Chicago and so ha
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ann-Marie by: Cassie Conger
Wow. My reading challenge included reading a book over 500 pages. I never expected that a book about a woman who enters the cloister could possibly be so riveting. I stayed up late to read this, several nights in a row. Phillipa is so approachable and relatable. This successful woman leaves her comfortable job and apartment to enter the cloister - and many of the Dames think that she won't be successful because she's lived too long in the world.

What I so enjoyed about the book is that the Dames
Jun 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, favorites
I re-read this book every few years, when my soul feels dusty.
Barb in Maryland

I was enchanted by the author's view of the world as presented in the microcosm of an abbey of Benedictine nuns. The setting may be specific to England of the 1950s and '60s, but the personal interactions between the members of this religious community are universal and timeless.
There are no cardboard cut-out saints to be found; all of the women are so real, with all of the graces and faults that go with being human.
Over the course of the book I developed my favorites--how could I not?
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book, not it the sense that it is lyrical long sentences and you can only read small dose at the time , but beautifully written in the sense of the depiction on human nature. This book showed the flaws and the strength in all of us. How vocation isn't sainthood but a journey of transformation. And there was lots of comical anecdote that made it an captivating read. Highly recommend ...more
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A reread for me of course, but it just does not disappoint! So rich in human experience and Godden has such a way of making the interior dramatic.
Bill Kupersmith
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the perfect read for self-isolating, a story of women monastics. I felt so deeply immersed in Benedictine spirituality that when I looked out my front window I almost expected to see a cloister. If prayer were an Olympic event, the nuns at Brede would be gold medalists. Seven times a day, from Vigils at 4 am to Compline at 8.30 pm they chant the daily office in Latin, praying for their community, for the world, and for people outside who have asked their intercessions. Though they would ...more
Jamie Collins
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What do you ask?
To try my vocation as a Benedictine in this house of Brede.

I was mesmerized by this quiet novel about a community of cloistered nuns, which begins with Philippa, a sophisticated, cosmopolitan businesswoman, giving away her possessions in preparation for entering Brede as a novice - at the age of 42.

It’s a character-driven novel, with little in the way of plot. There are about 96 nuns living at Brede (there’s a rather daunting dramatis personæ at the beginning) and the novel focus
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
2021 This book is such a gem and was even better with a second read.

2019 I wonder if my life would be drastically different if I had read this book as a single woman. This simple and heart warming story brings to life what it means to be a cloistered nun. Our modern utilitarian culture invaded my thinking more than I thought and I've realized I've always been puzzled over the value of the cloistered life. Philippa's story, as well as the story of other characters, demonstrates the struggles, sa
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to escape
Shelves: dreamlives, favorites
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
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: catholic
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. ...more
Susan in NC
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful writing, this book doesn’t really have a plot, but follows an older successful British widow as she gives up her civil service career to enter a Benedictine monastery.

I was amazed at how absorbing it could be to get to know this diverse group of nuns, following them through the years, broken up into liturgical seasons. So much happens in this closed community, it was lovely and I know I’ll want to reread it again! A peaceful, contemplative read that I enjoyed very much - read with the
What a delightful read! I never thought I could be so enthralled reading a book about the simple, daily lives of nuns, but it was so real and entertaining. People are still people even in a holy place like an Abbey. I laughed and cried and thoroughly enjoyed this book. My advice would be to savor it, it is such an enjoyable and satisfying read. It's going on the shelf with my favorite books that I love to read over and over again. ...more
Manuel Alfonseca
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maybe
ENGLISH: A good depiction of life in a monastery of Benedictine nuns, better than Black Narcissus, in my opinion.

Sometimes this book seems like a novel of intrigue, as the characters hide their past or their projects, and their secrets are discovered little by little.

ESPAÑOL: Buena descripción de la vida en un monasterio de monjas benedictinas. En mi opinión, es mejor que Narciso Negro.

A veces este libro parece una novela de intriga, pues los personajes ocultan su pasado o sus proyectos, y sus s
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. It may sound surprising that a 400-page book about a monastery of cloistered nuns may be a page-turner. But it is not so surprising if one is familiar with Rumer Godden's fluid writing, with her talent in creating characters that are fully alive, and with her compassion as she show us their weaknesses.

Philippa Talbot enters the monastery in her forties after a successful career, and her story is the main arc of the book, but many chapters deal in depth with some of other nuns. As we
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Catholic Book...: 1. Along the Way 31 33 Feb 26, 2021 12:38AM  
The Catholic Book...: 5. Divine Office 7 27 Feb 23, 2021 04:03PM  
The Catholic Book...: 2. Radical Change 35 29 Feb 23, 2021 01:04AM  
The Catholic Book...: * Introduction 16 40 Feb 21, 2021 08:21PM  
The Catholic Book...: 8. Life at Brede 21 24 Feb 19, 2021 05:10PM  
The Catholic Book...: 3. Courage 3 19 Feb 17, 2021 08:32PM  
The Catholic Book...: 10. Stone Disease 15 20 Feb 17, 2021 08:22PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Way of Perfection
  • The Scent of Water
  • The Anti-Mary Exposed: Rescuing the Culture from Toxic Femininity
  • Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday
  • In the Time of the Butterflies
  • Antigone (The Theban Plays, #3)
  • The Heart of the Family (Eliots of Damerosehay, #3)
  • The Splendor of Truth
  • Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking
  • Building the Benedict Option: A Guide to Gathering Two or Three Together in His Name
  • Catherine of Siena
  • Kristin Lavransdatter (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1-3)
  • Merry Hall
  • The Myth of Hitler's Pope: Pope Pius XII And His Secret War Against Nazi Germany
  • Pilgrim's Inn (Eliots of Damerosehay, #2)
  • Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy
  • A Mothers Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul
  • Made for This: The Catholic Mom's Guide to Birth
See similar books…
Margaret Rumer Godden, OBE was born in Sussex, 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

Related Articles

Danielle Evans was just 26 when she released her short story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self in 2010, a multi-award-winning...
15 likes · 1 comments
“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.” 21 likes
“I wish I knew when I was going to die,' ninety-six-year-old Dame Frances Anne often said, 'I wish I knew.'
'Why, Dame?'
'Then I should know what to read next.”
More quotes…