Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden (1979)

Five for sorrow, ten for joy by Rumer Godden

From the  1979 Viking edition of Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden: In this novel, Rumer Godden returns to the theme of the religious life, which has inspired some of her most successful novels including Black Narcissus and In This House of Brede.

She now moves to the world of the French Dominican Sisters of Béthanie, who work among the prostitutes, drug addicts, and vagrants of the great cities.

The heroine is Lise, an English girl who, after the liberation of Paris, falls into bad company and, after a period in one of Paris’s smartest brothels, becomes a successful madam — La Balafrée, the Scarred One.

The story of her prison sentence, her conversion, and her agonizing work among women whose experiences outdid even her own is also the story of one woman’s searing confrontation with her faith, and above all, herself.

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In this house of Brede cover

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The Sisters of Béthanie, whose real-life prototypes Rumer Godden researched and knows in depth, provide a background to match Lise’s own narrative: whether in cloistered serenity or in raw contact with the harshest realities of twentieth-century life, they stand an undimmed beacon.

The title Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy derives from the sequenced beads of the rosary, and it is a rosary glistening silver amid dirt and debris that becomes the very symbol of Lise’s tragedy and final triumph.

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Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden

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