Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Waking Rose: The Exception to Catholic Fiction

When it comes to Catholic fiction it is hard for me not to view it with contempt and distaste. I would much prefer to read secular fiction with Catholic undertones, such as Brideshead Revisited, than some overtly-in-your-face-Catholic novel. I read Pierced by a Sword and didn't care for it, but I gave the author the benefit of the doubt and read the next book by him. That one was just as bad. Then I read Father Elijah and hated it. Again, I gave the author the benefit of the doubt and read one of his other books. I hated that as well. Thus sealed my opinion of Catholic fiction forever. Or so I thought.

While I was visiting my in-laws, many of them were excitedly talking about Regina Doman's newest books, Waking Rose and The Midnight Dancers. I was already familiar with Doman's children's book Angel in the Waters and I had read articles on her blog occasionally as well. I decided to see what the fuss was about and take the risk of reading more bad fiction.

Except that Waking Rose wasn't bad. It was well written* and the plot was enjoyable. It was definitely a Catholic novel, but the Catholicity was not a turn-off the way it was in the other Catholic novels I have read. Perhaps it was because it was mentioned more in the context of being part of the characters' lifestyle rather than in the context of trying to preach Catholicism to the readers. Maybe one could say that this is an overtly Catholic novel, but not an overtly-in-your-face-Catholic novel. Does all this make sense? I have a feeling that I am not articulating my position very well.

Doman took the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty and turned it into a modern story. Everything that happens in the story is possible (although not always probable) which I think is better than if she had written a modern fairytale with a real witch casting a magical spell. After reading this I want to read her other "Fairytale retold" stories as well, which are also billed as "Catholic fiction."

I do think I should add that this is definitely not a children's book. There are many adult themes in the book which would be too intense for children to understand, and it would be disturbing for them if they did happen to understand. But since it is a Catholic novel, any immorality or sinfulness found in the story line is written about with a proper Catholic perspective.

*I am not a very good judge of whether a book is well written or not, so this doesn't mean much. What it does mean, however, is that it is much better written than the other Catholic novels I have read.

1 comment:

Flannery said...

Hmm, sounds interesting.