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Set in contemporary and World War II France, this is the story of Sister Bernard: her forbidden love, her uncertain faith, and her guilt- ridden past.

A once -bustling convent in the South of France is closing, leaving behind three elderly nuns. Forced, for the first time, to confront the community that she betrayed decades ago, Sister Bernard relives her life during the war.

At thirty, Sister Bernard can hear the voice of God-strident, ...

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Obedience: A Novel

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Set in contemporary and World War II France, this is the story of Sister Bernard: her forbidden love, her uncertain faith, and her guilt- ridden past.

A once -bustling convent in the South of France is closing, leaving behind three elderly nuns. Forced, for the first time, to confront the community that she betrayed decades ago, Sister Bernard relives her life during the war.

At thirty, Sister Bernard can hear the voice of God-strident, furious, and personal. When a young Nazi soldier, a member of the German occupying forces, asks her to meet him in the church in secret one evening, she agrees. And so begins the horrifying and passionate love affair that will deafen the heavens and define her life, tempting her into duplicity. Obedience is a powerful exploration of one woman's struggle to reconcile her aching need to be loved with her fear of God's wrath.

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Editorial Reviews

Hilary Mantel
"An intensely imagined novel about one of the defining questions of the century just past: where and how we choose to draw the line between innocence and guilt, ignorance and complicity. Obedience also asks us to consider what ghastly harm is committed in the name of love. It's rare to find a book that is seemingly so simple, but is really ambiguous and thought-provoking."
Stewart O'Nan
"With delicacy and restraint, Jacqueline Yallop lets us get close to her characters yet never judges them—crucial, when dealing with the self- deluded and the self-righteous. Obedience is the best kind of Occupation romance: forbidden, tortured and indelible."
Beverly Donofrio
"Obedience will give you no answers about good and evil, innocence, guilt, holiness, God, or obedience. What you will receive is a riveting story that haunts and provokes and subverts easily held assumptions, tosses them in the air and then makes you keep thinking long after you've read the last page."
Catherine Gildiner
"The character of Sister Bernard is a Madame Bovary of the convent world. Her fantasy and insatiable need for love prove to be far greater than her ability to analyze character. While superficially simplistic, her relationship with God is complex and she is capable of battling God with the strength of Joan of Arc. These contradictions in her character are seamless and a complex and unforgettable character emerges."
Diane Schoemperlen
"The deceptively quiet writing style of this compelling novel operates in perfect counterpoint to the intense drama of the story it reveals. A thoughtful and troubling look at the consequences of love, faith, blame, and betrayal, with the ferocious voice of God hovering above it all."
From the Publisher

“Christine Williams . . . mov[es] smoothly between the past and present. Her . . . compassionate delivery is a perfect match for this novel.”

“Is utterly compelling to the very end.”
Midwest Book Review

“Williams matches the languid pace with a soft and precise reading infused with a delicate yet harrowing intensity. . . . A mesmerizing audio, a testament to the disturbing power of the story.”

New Zealand Herald
“An intense and powerful story. . . . Wartime stories and nuns’ tales are common enough but Obedience manages to be something different. [It] is a tightly written study of betrayal, faith, loneliness and desire. The coolness and restraint of her prose seems ideally suited to the story’s setting and its themes.”
New Zealand Herald
Midwest Book Review

“Yallop’s exploration of the space between innocence and guilt, of complicity and delusion has a lingering power.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Is a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of faith and its reconciliation with imperfect humanity. . . . So engrossing that readers will experience a range of emotions as the tragic circumstances shaping Bernard’s life are revealed.”
Library Journal
Library Journal
Part of a paperback series aimed at introducing American readers to new voices from around the world, this book takes place at a convent in southern France that must finally close its doors. Among the three gray-haired nuns still there is Sister Bernard, who reflects on a terrible act of betrayal she committed during World War II. Craving human love, she had an affair with a German soldier that has wider repercussions. Yallop is author of the McKitterick-shortlisted Kissing Alice; great for book clubs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594524670
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

JACQUELINE YALLOP, is the author of Kissing Alice, shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize. Obedience is her American debut. Formerly curator of the John Ruskin Museum in Sheffield, England, she now lives in the south of France.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    "Obedience" finds us at a convent in the South of Fran

    "Obedience" finds us at a convent in the South of France which is now on the verge of closing soon after it's bustling hayday. Three nuns are still in residence: Sister Marie, Sister Therese and Sister Bernard. The three are making preparations to leave to go to other facilities: Sister Marie to a nursing home, Sister Therese to live with a friend, and Sister Bernard to Les Cedres, a home for the elderly.
    During these preparations to leave, Sister Bernard is reminded of her past.
    When Sister Bernard was 30, she always heard God talking to her upclose and personal. But during wartime, she meets a Nazi soldier who entices her to meet him where she commits an act of betrayal to the Church and God. Craving love, she has a sordid affair with this soldier which brings on terrible percussions. When a time comes that her soldier does not show up for her any longer, she becomes distraught. According to the Rev. Mother, she needs to confess her sins to the priest at the church and do her penance. She no longer can hear God speak to her and that really bothers her a lot.
    Now, after the 2 other nuns have gone to their new "homes", Sister Bernard accepts the fact that she also will need to go to the place where she is expected. Years ago, she had born a son and he was taken and given to a good home. She also finds that she has a granddaughter. She has so much to reconcile with God about.
    It is a novel that does not give answers about good and evil, innocence, guilt, loneliness or obedience.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 20, 2013



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    Posted March 23, 2014

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