By Jacqueline Yallop
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143120674, 288pp.)
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Set in contemporary and World War II France, this is the story of Sister Bernard: her forbidden love, her uncertain faith, and her guilt- ridden past.
A once -bustling convent in the South of France is closing, leaving behind three elderly nuns. Forced, for the first time, to confront the community that she betrayed decades ago, Sister Bernard relives her life during the war.
At thirty, Sister Bernard can hear the voice of God-strident, furious, and personal. When a young Nazi soldier, a member of the German occupying forces, asks her to meet him in the church in secret one evening, she agrees. And so begins the horrifying and passionate love affair that will deafen the heavens and define her life, tempting her into duplicity. Obedience is a powerful exploration of one woman's struggle to reconcile her aching need to be loved with her fear of God's wrath.
Jacqueline Yallop is the author of Kissing Alice, shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize. Obedience is her American debut. Formerly curator of the John Ruskin Museum in Sheffield, England, she now lives in the South of France.
"An intensely imagined novel about one of the defining questions of the century just past: where and how we choose to draw the line between innocence and guilt, ignorance and complicity. Obedience also asks us to consider what ghastly harm is committed in the name of love. It's rare to find a book that is seemingly so simple, but is really ambiguous and thought-provoking."
--Hilary Mantel, Man Booker-Prize winning author of Wolf Hall
"With delicacy and restraint, Jacqueline Yallop lets us get close to her characters yet never judges them--crucial, when dealing with the self- deluded and the self-righteous. Obedience is the best kind of Occupation romance: forbidden, tortured and indelible."
--Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily Alone
"Yallop's exploration of the space between innocence and guilt, of complicity and delusion has a lingering power."
"Obedience will give you no answers about good and evil, innocence, guilt, holiness, God, or obedience. What you will receive is a riveting story that haunts and provokes and subverts easily held assumptions, tosses them in the air and then makes you keep thinking long after you've read the last page."
--Beverly Donofrio, author of Riding in Cars with Boys
"The character of Sister Bernard is a Madame Bovary of the convent world. Her fantasy and insatiable need for love prove to be far greater than her ability to analyze character. While superficially simplistic, her relationship with God is complex and she is capable of battling God with the strength of Joan of Arc. These contradictions in her character are seamless and a complex and unforgettable character emerges."
--Catherine Gildiner, author of After the Falls
"The deceptively quiet writing style of this compelling novel operates in perfect counterpoint to the intense drama of the story it reveals. A thoughtful and troubling look at the consequences of love, faith, blame, and betrayal, with the ferocious voice of God hovering above it all."
--Diane Schoemperlen, author of Our Lady of the Lost and Found