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on 27 November 1998
As with his previous novel, Father Elijah, O'Brien's Strangers and Sojournors is an instant classic. It is much different from his best-selling debut, however, for it deals with a woman who comes from England in the early part of the 20th century to live in the wilds of northern British Columbia. It is her story, the story of a human being dealing with the mystery of human existence. Hence it is our story, too, for, as the title belies, we are all strangers and sojournors on this earth. With this book, O'Brien shows his artistic side; one can almost hear the music and poetry behind the prose, which will reach deep into the heart of the reader. Noted writer Peter Kreeft has said that "No novel since Dostoyevsky has nourished my soul like Strangers and Sojournors." I agree. O'Brien is a spiritual storyteller of the most extraordinary calibre and this book is his best so far.
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on 20 May 1999
I was reading this book alongside O'Brien's _A Landscape with Dragons_. Doing so might have been a mistake, as the "secret formula" of his storywriting stood out too obviously and awkwardly to me in _Strangers and Sojourners_, making it quite tedious. Or maybe it was just the plain old fact that it was slow! I wonder what happened to the literary device of "showing" rather than "telling" that the author used so masterfully in _Elijah_?
Well, maybe with these three "Delaney" (Children of the Last Days) epics out of his system, O'Brien can get back to writing enjoyable novels.
(By the way, although it is not a novel, his _Landscape with Dragons_ is superbly insightful, and subtly transmits the same genuine, deep mystical spirituality of its author, as did _Elijah_. I recommend THAT one to any parent, teacher or pastor.)
It's fun to wonder what genre O'Brien will decide to use in his next novel. Perhaps an historical novel, with an actual Saint or two as its main characters? I, for one, would love to see more of the Elijah type character. Whatever he decides, I surely hope that he keeps that same sense of mystery and Providential foreshadowing that makes Elijah such an enjoyable, (and spiritually inspiring) read and re-read.
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on 15 May 1999
Every character in this poetic novel is an individual, no flat, cardboard stereotypes so common in modern novels. Even minor characters are believable and every scene plays an integral part in advancing the plot. I was particularly fascinated with the understanding shown by the author for the female protagonist, Anne Ashton. Her physical struggles in the Canadian wilderness, her psychological struggles with her own past, and the challenge of understanding her husband and children must resonate with many married couples. Examining Anne's life opens a window onto the life of each of us with its joys, sufferings, defeats, and successes. Not only was this a book that was worth reading, it's worth rereading and meditating on. I liked Fr. Elijah very much, but this book is a masterpiece.
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on 30 December 1998
In Father Elijah, O'Brien showed us the sword. In Strangers and Sojourners, he shows us the heart. Anne Kingsley Ashton is a character that I will never forget-- in so many ways her struggles are my struggles. She is often overhwhelmed by life, both the daily struggles for existence and the spiritual questions of meaning and purpose. The battle she fights against the temptation of despair defines courage. What tools, if any, can Anne find to fight these feelings? And what is at the root of her discontent? I, too, have wondered these things about myself. O'Brien has given life to the process of healing the emotional and spiritual wounds we accumulate throughout a lifetime. And most of all, shown us the importance of courage. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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on 18 August 1999
I've read all his books, and while I found the others to be more adventurous, this was my favorite. It is a capital 'L' Literature book. I luxuriated in the slow pace, the images and the people. The life saga of a spiritual journey captivated me. It is exciting to read the other books in the series and see how the lives and stories of their characters proceeded from this book. If you prefer the fast pace of beer commercials and Sports Utility Vehicles commercials on TV, you probably won't like this book. If you mourn that "There hath passed away a glory from the earth" in much modern literature, you will like this book.
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on 19 April 1999
Michael O'Brien has written a novel which illuminates trancendent truths with a lyrical, almost poetic style. The piercing insights into human minds and hearts and the longing for the Home which we are ultimately created for, is astonishingly captured by the telling of the Delaney saga. Once read, it will be a book not soon forgotten. Not since C.S. Lewis' "Surprised by Joy" have I read passages that resonanted so deeply within. Someone loaned me a copy to read --I will now buy a copy for my library. I look forward to a future re-read!
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on 25 June 1999
Michael O'Brien's books are profoundly insightful. They demonstrate the lack of spiritual depth in our society and the desperate need we have to recover that depth. "Strangers and Soujourners" is a marvelous, gradual unfolding of the real meaning of marriage and commitment. The book is somewhat difficult to "get into" but if the reader sticks it out, he will be richly rewarded. O'Brien demonstrates a profound insight into the need for our society to recover a sense of faith, love and family.
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on 2 September 1998
Michael O'Brian has done it again! Just as one leaves Father Elijah feeling that one has gained new insights to the lives of very Holy Monks, one feels the ups and downs of Anne's journey through life...spiritually and in every aspect. His use of nature and the elements to illustrate her life is so beautiful and adds to the story in a way that we can all understand. By the way, you are going to love Eclipse of the Sun, too!
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on 1 April 1999
This book has been a part of my drift from my selfish expectations on life to a quiet waiting for God. When I have nothing left to give, and no more claims to make, then I see He waits for me. This book has moved in the past year to become my favourite of O'Brien's writings. A phrase from the book about 'blood and manure' reflects a concept that has become a perspective on life for me.
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on 7 March 1999
I really enjoyed Father Elijha and wanted to devour anything else O'Brien wrote but found Strangers and Sojourners lacking. After completing the book I wondered if the next book in the sequel would be worth my time. There were many points in the book I really liked and could relate to in my life. However, the book in whole did not inspire me.....much.
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