A sophisticated novel told from the perspective of an elderly nun trying her best to enjoy her golden years tending to her roses and beloved dog Her past comes back with a vengeance when she is required to return to Iceland to investigate events from her youth that have resurfaced but have never been forgotten The unreliability of memory, youthful incompetence, first love, the abuse of power, and the marks on the heart that sins and sin leave are deftly and deeply explored This is my first Olafsson but most assuredly not my last. Sometimes I think the audio version of a novel makes the story better because of the talent of the narrator The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson, narrated by Jane Copland is one of those novels that shine in audio Copland has a melodious voice, capturing the novel s narrator, Sister Joanna perfectly Copland has the lilt, accent, and tone that enhances the story of a nun who steadfastly follows her conscious while she understands she s being ignored and berated.Author Olaf Olafsson writes a story that exhibits the layers of power in the Catholic Church Sister Joanna is requested demanded to go to Iceland to investigate charges against a Catholic Priest of child abuse She is to write a report as to her findings, and soon learns that her findings are all for show The Priest will continue to be a Headmaster to Catholic Schools no matter what her discoveries are We also learn of Sister Joanna s history with a particular Priest, that through cunning and political maneuvering has moved up the hierarchy of the Church He is her nemesis, the thorn that is background noise to her life.Olafsson writes Sister Joanna with a sense of humor Yes, she is serious, but she has a quiet dignity that has a fun side For example, her pet is named George Harrison, after the Beatle George Harrison She was particularly fond of the Beatles in the 60 s before she became a nun While she s in Iceland, investigating the Priest, a young man is assigned to drive her and accompany her in her investigation He is an agnostic, with a car named Jesus As a person who names her own cars, I understand the naming of vehicles The reasons for the name are fun And Sister Joanna agrees with the name and refers to the car as Jesus through the story The story is mostly Sister Joanna s rumination of her life, how she became a nun, what she feels about God and spirituality This is why Jane Copland is the perfect voice for Joanna Copland brings her to life.There s a plot twist I didn t see coming, which I love Sister Joanna is what I hope most nuns are like This is the first novel I ve read by Olafsson I ll look for of his work. 3.5 Dark and bleak, is this story of a young woman who struggles with a sexual orientation condemned by the Catholic Church Going back and forth in time and alternating between Paris and Iceland, the story takes the reader inside the abuse accusations in the church A nun herself now, she is tasked with the responsibility of investigating the abuse accusations arising out of a boys Catholic school in Iceland and their priest Silence, a most potent motif is a result of sins kept hidden, of boys and their parents who are afraid to speak The end result was unexpected, and surprising.I liked this, sometimes it is all in the atmosphere, and this book has it in spades The story had a authentic feel, the cold, brooding landscape, a scandal that has hit churches hard all over the world It all fit together Plus, I was reading while sitting in front of my picture window, while the sky darkened, the sun set and it seemed like I could imagine the story happening just as it did Not quite the happy holiday story I should be reading, but it did fit the melancholy I am prone to as the sun stays hidden so often in winter months.ARC from Edelweiss. I love mysteries that deal with different places Here, we are transported to Iceland A French Catholic sister is sent to Iceland to investigate a charge of abuse against two school boys Why does the Catholic Church send a nun, you ask Supposedly because she speaks Icelandic But even she susses out the truth they don t want her to discover the truth and are expecting her to fail We hear from Sister Johanna Marie both at the time of her investigation and some 20 years later, when she is sent back again when one of the boys changes his story The sister has her own secret, which we learn early on The book perfectly captures the times, especially as it pertains to the Catholic Church, when some sins are acceptable than others Olafsson has a very sparse writing style, but that doesn t mean it lacks grace or beauty He jumps back and forth between Sister Johanna s memories of her college days, the story in 1987 and the present day The book covers the abuse of power in all its guises and how those abuses affect the innocent and the powerless Johanna is a wonderful character She wrestles with her faith For her, God is not a certainty but yet she continues to pray and talk to him.And yes, I knew from early on how the book would end, but that didn t impact my enjoyment of the book.My thanks to netgalley and Ecco for an advance copy of this book. The Haunting, Vivid Story Of A Nun Whose Past Returns To Her In Unexpected Ways, All While Investigating A Mysterious Death And A Series Of Harrowing Abuse ClaimsA Young Nun Is Sent By The Vatican To Investigate Allegations Of Misconduct At A Catholic School In Iceland During Her Time There, On A Gray Winter S Day, A Young Student At The School Watches The School S Headmaster, Father August Franz, Fall To His Death From The Church TowerTwo Decades Later, The Child Now A Grown Man, Haunted By The Past Calls The Nun Back To The Scene Of The Crime Seeking Peace And Calm In Her Twilight Years At A Convent In France, She Has No Choice To Make A Trip To Iceland Again, A Trip That Brings Her Former Visit, As Well As Her Years As A Young Woman In Paris, Powerfully And Sometimes Painfully To Life In Paris, She Met An Icelandic Girl Who She Has Not Seen Since, But Whose Acquaintance Changed Her Life, A Relationship She Relives All While Reckoning With The Mystery Of August Franz S Death And The Abuses Of Power That May Have Brought It OnIn The Sacrament, Critically Acclaimed Novelist Olaf Olafsson Looks Deeply At The Complexity Of Our Past Lives And Selves The Faulty Nature Of Memory And The Indelible Mark Left By The Joys And Traumas Of Youth Affecting And Beautifully Observed, The Sacrament Is Both Propulsively Told And Poignantly Written Tinged With The Tragedy Of Life Regrets But Also Moved By The Possibilities Of Redemption, A New Work From A Novelist Who Consistently Surprises And Challenges I received a free e copy of The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson from NetGalley for my honest review Sister Johann is asked to travel to Iceland and investigate an alleged sexual crime between a priest and some young boys After a very thorough investigation, Sister knows he is guilty The problem is that none of the children or their parents are willing to have it documented The priest knows this, of course, and provokes her An well written and intriguing read. Intense Nordic drama A boy locked in a school s broom closet views something strange out of the window.A Catholic nun whose locked away her own secrets, including the reasons for her not quite belonging despite her best efforts Her sense of humor, her attachment to her dog George Harrison and her rose garden don t quite still her heart The persuasive church hierarchy who don t want to know Cardinal Raffin, a sly holder of Sister Joanna Marie s life from before He thinks that sending a nun with secrets can be controlled to investigate a school where abuse charges have been made That this will suffice.Sister Joanna is sent not once but twice, in her forties and then twenty years later to investigate complaints about the church school The major part of the novel, is set in Reykjav k, Iceland How Sister Joanna comes to speak Icelandic is another story that we glimpse as Joanna recalls her time at the Sorbonne as she waits in Paris for her evening flight Later we come to know details.I felt like I was constantly in an ice storm reading this, not quite knowing which way was up, but aware of danger The clues are just beyond reach, almost I often felt overwhelmed by Joanna s powerlessness in the face of the church hierarchy I felt the weight of her secrets I lived the consequences of both her indecisions and her decisions.The ending was a surprise and yet not really The story looks at the interweaving of the past and present, of how small vacillations, even non action can effect the future That I am forced to reflect on all that goes on long after I finished reading further commends this story by Olafsson to me At its heart it is dark and yet the light enters, just in rather different ways.I must say I like the cover, the brooding church with all that space around it, slightly menacing, a shadow on the landscape.A HarperCollins ARC via NetGalley I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review DNF at 35%Well, here we are I thought this would have a lot of promise an Icelandic Catholic nun investigating abuse charges in the Church in Iceland Sounds like an awesome book But, it didn t work for me at all.My biggest complaint was how distant I felt from the story It doesn t use quotation marks, so it was hard to read for me That meant I was focused on trying to see where the sentences started and stopped, and who was talking I was so focused on that, that I didn t even get to know the characters In short, the story was hard to track and when I hit 35% of absorbing almost no details, I decided to call it quits. Having read a NYT review of this book I ordered a sample After reading it I immediately ordered the book and continued into the night, reluctantly putting it down to get some sleep In the morning I picked it up again and finished it pretty much 24 hours after I had started I m not sure why a story about a middle aged nun, tormented by feelings of having wasted her life, and sent to Iceland on a mission to verify an accusation of abuse, should be so fascinating, but it was Beautifully told, juggling several time periods without missing a beat, this novel was a delightful surprise. A gripping, emotive literary accomplishment Most highly recommended Complete review to be posted closer to the publication date of 12 3 2019.
Olaf Olafsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962 He studied physics as a Wien Scholar at Brandeis University He is the author of three previous novels, The Journey Home, Absolution and Walking Into the Night, and a story collection, Valentines His books have been published to critical acclaim in than twenty languages He is the recipient of the O Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary
- 304 pages
- The Sacrament
- Olaf Olafsson
- 23 September 2017 Olaf Olafsson