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Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy: A Novel Hardcover – Oct 1979


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Hardcover, Oct 1979
£222.80 £0.19


Product details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Pr; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (Oct 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670317012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670317011
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,302,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Sep 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ms Godden writes movingly and with sensitive clarity of a woman entering convent life in her middle age.
Dextrously exploring the character's previous life as a madam, she seamlessly contrasts a gritty depiction of a Parisian brothel with the day to day life of a French convent in mid-twentieth century France.
Yet the contrast between the two is not as abrupt as it might seem. Ms Godden handles both settings with exquisite sensitivity and without heavy-handed cliche. The storyline segues effortlessly between the two, the characters although evolving remain constant and aligned with reality - no sudden seeing of the light is in evidence, rather their motivations change in harmony with the book itself.
Details of both convent life and elsewhere are accurate and convincing, also beautifully handled in a way that makes the reader familiar with the depiction as opposed to alienated. The main character, although a convicted murderer, is highly sympathetic and evokes both respect and understanding. The depiction of the young girl who is adopted by the brothel and taken under the wing of "La Balafree" is like cut glass in its clarity and vision - truly outstanding.
Incredibly moving and memorable, I highly recommend this book as one of the author's best. On a separate note it is also a fascinating insight into pre-Vatican 2 convent life.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alun Williams VINE VOICE on 27 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy book describes how a "nice" English girl called Elizabeth Fanshawe is drawn into prostitution in a high-class Parisian bordel by the charming but unscrupulous and abusive Patrice, how and why she then commits a violent crime for which she is sent to prison for a long period, and how she ultimately finds redemption as Soeur Lise of the "Sisters of Bethany" (an order of nuns which really exists).

The book is much darker than most of Ms Godden's works, though the descriptions of life in the convent are written with her typical delicacy and insight, and are no doubt what motivated her to write the book in the first place. The book gives a convincing portrayal of the religious life, and should give those who dismiss religion as valueless pause for thought (or indeed religious people who dismiss Roman Catholicism.)

The narrative structure is quite complex: the story covers more than thirty years of Lise's life (from 1944 to about 1976, so that some of the changes in convent life brought about after Vatican II are mentioned). The story constantly shifts period, sometimes even within one paragraph, and there is a secondary narrative in the first person told from the point of view of Vivi, whose actions provoke the crime that changes Elizabeth's destiny.

Given the subject matter, a sensational plot was perhaps inevitable, but in this reviewer's view the plot is sometimes too sensational to be plausible, and this detracts from the quieter and deeper messages of the book. I found it hard to believe that Elizabeth would fall so easily into prostitution, and that she would be so entirely forgotten by anyone who knew her before.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By sparky61 on 13 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book arrived very quickly, exactly as described by the seller, and I'm delighted with it. Would definitely use this seller again.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
--Compelling and Memorable-- 7 Sep 2004
By Judith Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the story of Elizabeth Fanshawe. In 1944, when she was twenty-one years old, she was enlisted in the English army and her assignment as a driver took her to Paris. It was an exciting time because the French were jubilant over the liberation of France. Elizabeth joined in the celebrations, but became separated from her English army companion. Intoxicated from hours of drinking, she splashed around with a group of other celebrants in a fountain. Wet, exhausted and cold, she was approached by Patrice Ambard, a charming and well-dressed man who befriends her. When he finds out that she's alone, he offers to take her to his home to dry off. Drunk and unable to remember where her hotel is, she goes with him. She's seduced and ends up madly in love with Patrice. Thus, she began a new life. Patrice owned a high-class brothel, and Lise becomes a prostitute and was known as the notorious Madam Lise Ambard. She was also referred to as La Balafree, the Scarred One.

Her life is told through flashbacks and the book actually begins with her in a convent that is run by the French Dominican Sisters of Bethanie. This particular order of Sisters work in helping drug addicts, vagrants, prisoners and prostitutes. Lise's story unfolds, as she remembers her past and the circumstances of her life. Despite the sordid early life that Lise led, this is actually a story of faith, love and forgiveness.

The title, FIVE FOR SORROW, TEN FOR JOY is a reference to the rosary. The Rosary, is a Catholic tradition where the different prayers reflect on the life of Jesus.

The author of this fascinating story is Rumer Godden. She is the superb author of dozens of wonderful books for both adults and children. Three of her most well known stories were also turned into films. They are, IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE, THE PEACOCK SPRING and BLACK NARCISSUS.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
It's many years since I read this and still it haunts me 23 Jun 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The title refers to the Rosary which the main character can not escape - or the child in whose hand she first saw it. The Catholic imagery and ritual is pervasive but with enough explaination for a reader who is not familar with it.

From being a driver in the armed forces at the liberation of Paris at the end of the war Liz could not have seen the path her life would take.

Rumer Godden paints vivd picture of the times and places she describes from the brothel to the prison and finally to the convent where she finds her peace in the orders' work with prisioners.

It is many years since I last read this book and yet the images from it and the character stay in my memory still. The work may not be quite to the standard of "In this house of Brede" but it is still a brilliant story and very well crafted. I am very sad to see it is no longer in print.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A very fine novel that should be in print 5 Jan 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I too am sorry this book is not currently available. The story is darker and less "easy" than Godden's luminous IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE -- the main character becomes a madam and a convict -- but the themes of religious faith and redemption are the same and are beautifully rendered.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Another Rumer Godden Treasure! 27 Aug 2004
By Kathleen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
How sad that this book is no longer in print. "Five for Sorrow; ten for Joy" is beautifully written as are most of Rumer Godden's books.

Liz is only 19, fresh from London and driving an army car during World War II. She has no parents and was brought up by a cold, unmarried aunt. Her life changes when she is seduced by a charming Frenchman who is actually the proprietor of a brothel.

Degradation, despair, and eventual redemption are the themes of this novel. Rumer Godden also weaves in the history of the order of nuns Liz joins--an order founded to rescue the prostitutes of Paris.

The five for sorrow and ten for joy refer to the decades of the rosary.

The descriptions and writing are exquisite. I loved this story.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Dark, yet lovely story. 5 May 2005
By Pacific NW Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A wonderful book found in a used bookstore. I wish they wrote like this today. Miss Godden is a masterful storyteller, who writes about the Catholic faith beautifully. You don't have to be Catholic to understand and enjoy the subject of this book. It is a dark story--much more so than most of her books. However, the love, faith, and beauty that shine forth from the despair and degradation of Lise's early life are thought provoking. The charactors will stay with you for a long time. Highly recommended.
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