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A Whispered Name (Father Anselm Novels) [Hardcover]

William Brodrick
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Sep 2008 Father Anselm Novels (Book 3)

To keep quiet about something so important . . . well, it's almost a lie, wouldn't you say?'

When Father Anselm meets Kate Seymour in the cemetery at Larkwood, he is dismayed to hear her allegation. Herbert Moore had been one of the founding fathers of the Priory, revered by all who met him, a man who'd shaped Anselm's own vocation. The idea that someone could look on his grave and speak of a lie is inconceivable. But Anselm soon learns that Herbert did indeed have secrets in his past that he kept hidden all his life. In 1917, during the terrible slaughter of the Passchendaele campaign, a soldier faced a court martial for desertion. Herbert, charged with a responsibility that would change the course of his life, sat upon the panel that judged him. In coming to understand the court martial, Anselm discovers its true significance: a secret victory that transformed the young Captain Moore and shone a light upon the horror of war.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; First Edition edition (18 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316731544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316731546
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 16.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 572,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Impressive . . . Brodrick captures brilliantly the sickening nature of the soldier s' task in having to execute one of their own . . . He uses this emotive material to its full potential, spinning out an interior drama that is every bit as gripping as the events themselves . . . Brodrick tells his story skilfully, pacing it well, building up the tension and revealing just enough to keep the pages turning . . . There are some brilliantly evocative and poignant descriptions of the trenches . . . He has succeeded in telling a passionately human story about a most inhuman moment in history (Irish Times)

Sensitively wrought . . . Brodrick's exploratory novels are refreshing and restorative, his style is thoughtful and precise; his integrity powerful. You feel better for having read them. Maybe you are (Spectator)

'The horrors of Passchendaele in 1917 run through this exquisite novel. Just how much can a man take before he must simply walk away? And what kind of strength enables one man to lay down his life for another? (Matthew Lewin, Guardian)

Brodrick writes very well about inner movements of tension and realisation. This is an ambitious book in the way that it balances these profound questions with an intricate and pacy plot, and in its scope, tracing lives spanning nearly a century (Scotsman)

Book Description

A hugely moving and intelligent novel from the bestselling author of The Sixth Lamentation and The Gardens of the Dead, A Whispered Name reaches into the mysteries of one man's past and casts light on the long shadows war leaves behind

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very moving WW1 novel 19 Dec 2008
By R. Reed
This is the first William Brodrick Novel I've read and I've discovered a wonderful and moving writer.
The events of "A Whispered Name" are set in the trenches of WW1 where a young Irishman Joseph Flanagan is facing execution for desertion. Some 70 years later Father Anselm researches the sad events leading up to this pitiful moment.
While the plot moves along at a gentle pace, the horror of war is starkly laid out. There are no bad guys, even the officers sending this poor chap to death are viewed in sympathetic light. What I loved about the story was the strong undercurrent of spirituality which seep through every paragraph, yet without preaching God and church, more about the reality of goodness and the search for what is right.
Brodrick has created a novel that is both tragic and heart warming, capturing the slaughter of WW1 and the search for peace of mind.
That argument for faith and religion have taken a battering of late - with Dawkins, the religious right, the battles in the vatican and CoE all persuading the intellect to steer well away, Broderick is reminding us that maybe we should think again.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual healing 9 Sep 2008
By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER
Brodrick's latest novel finds another investigation worthy of the ability and insight of Brother Anselm, a monk previously trained as a lawyer. It's an understanding of not only the law but the deeper motivations of the human spirit that is required in A Whispered Name, and what greater mystery could there be than the personal events and upheavals endured by young men and boys under the command of unfathomable laws in the trenches of WWI?

A mysterious visitor to the Larkwood monastery reveals and unknown aspect to the life of one of its oldest inhabitants, the founder of the monastery itself, Fr. Herbert Moore and his part in the sentencing of a young Irishman, Private Joseph Flanagan, charged with desertion during the battle for Passchendaele in 1917. Fr. Moore however is now dead, leaving the events and incomplete accounts of the incident shrouded in secrecy. What drove a young Irishman to fight alongside the English? Why did he risk an unknown, perhaps personal mission that could see him dishonoured and shot for desertion? And why are the pages of his trial containing the final judgement incomplete?

Caught up in complicated military legal procedures, the events distorted by unreliable and incomplete accounts, Anselm's investigation seems to be an impossible one, "looking for meaning in the one place it cannot be found". Yet this is precisely the strength of Brodrick's work. The writing is again brilliant, the author masterfully creating the conditions of the WWI trenches, but more than that, capturing the deeper complexities of memory and human behaviour caught up in exceptional circumstances.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and informative. 5 July 2009
This is the third outing for William Brodrick's barrister-turned monk Father Anselm, and I think it's the best so far.

The book follows Anselm's investigation into the wartime activities of his mentor, Father Herbert Moore. As well as depicting the horrors of the trenches and the mental and physical damage suffered by the soldiers, there is also a mystery element to the story. What led Joseph Flanagan to leave his home off the coast of Ireland to join the British Army, why did he commit a suicidal act of desertion, and just who is the mysterious woman who accosts Anselm in the cemetery and always seems to be one step ahead of his investigations?

Anselm's research reveals the almost slapdash process of courts martial during WW1, when shooting deserters was deemed necessary in order to maintain discipline and set an example. It also uncovers some shocking, but unfortunately not very surprising, facts including the disproportionate numbers of Irish and working class men who were shot for deserting their posts, for whatever reason. The book also deals with the lasting legacy of guilt and shame borne by those who were forced to carry out the death sentence on their comrades, which haunts them for the rest of their lives.

I remember really enjoying the first Father Anselm book, The Sixth Lamentation, but being disappointed in the follow-up, Gardens of the Dead. This is a great return to form; an informative, well written and very poignant story.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely moving and satisfying 28 April 2009
A Whispered Name is the third in the Father Anselm novels and although I really enjoyed William Brodrick's first two, this one is the best yet. Filled with all the intrigue of an old mystery which reaches into the present,its unsolved questions still carry consequences for the present, and Anselm seeks to bring peace to troubled souls in searching for the answer. But his historical perspective is fleshed out with contemporary events on the ground back in the Trenches of the first world war providing a rich, moving and intensely poignant read. It shows how events can have consequences far beyond the present and hold echoes for generations. It is really a book about the human spirit and how young men fared under intense conditions, in situations they were neither trained for nor could have expected to encounter. Their fear, courage and conscience followed them down the years and left long reaching shadows.
This is a masterly book, and one that kept me awake at night and left me reluctant for it to end. Not always an easy read, but a most satisfying one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read
Best of the Father Anselm novels so far.
Published 1 month ago by S. Chinn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Eileen Ranson
4.0 out of 5 stars Story set in First World War
Becoming a fan of William Broderick and this was a book I enjoyed very much because it moved me and made me think about the obvious i.e. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Suzie
4.0 out of 5 stars WW1
Very poignant in this the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1. Covers many of the hidden issues at the time.
Published 6 months ago by Val
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Can be read as a stand alone novel or as part of a series. This was the first Father Anselm novel I read and loved it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by K I Watson
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes a while to get into ...
Opening chapters not very well written. Doesn't flow very well. Eventually develops into a quite interesting story, but use of unusual words irritating rather than impressive.
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
if you only read one book about WW1, make it this one. Patience is required at the beginning but it will be well rewarded.
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars A book driven by process rather than emotion
The Great War continues to offer a rich, emotive background around which to set a novel, and Brodrick has used it convincingly enough in this third Father Anselm book. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jl Adcock
5.0 out of 5 stars 2014 and all that

If you only read one book about the first world war. let it be this one. Against all the political posturing and academic argument this book reveals the inhuman ity... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Angusian
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
I always find William Broderick writes an excellent story. He makes you think and this is one of his best. Highly recommended.
Published 8 months ago by Phil Aldis
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