The acclaimed author of The Cloud Atlas returns with a wondrous second novel. Set in a small beachfront Catholic high school, narrated by a beautifully complex heroine–theology teacher Emily Hamilton–All Saints is at once a mystery, a love story, and a powerful rumination on secrets, temptation, and faith.
By life’s midpoint Emily has seen three husbands, dozens of friends, and hundreds of students come and go. And now her classroom, long her refuge, is proving to be
Though her popular, occasionally irreverent church history course is rich with stories of long-dead saints, Emily uneasily discovers that it’s her own tumultuous life that fascinates certain students most. She in turn finds herself drawn into their world, their secrets, and the fateful choices they make.
A novel of mystery and illumination, calling and choice, All Saints explores lives lived in a fragile sanctuary–from Emily and her many saints to a priest facing his own mortality and a teenager tormented by desire. Told with grace and compassion, this is a spellbinding novel of provocative storytelling.
From the Hardcover edition.
wake of the Formosus report, I’d had a small but intransigent breakout of atheism in my class: how could there be a God if such horrible things happened, to popes no less? And so on. I wasn’t sure which to tackle first—the notion that popes were any more special souls than they, or the fact that it wasn’t God Who’d done the exhuming—but I had quickly lost my way and ended up issuing the helpful threat, “Well, wait until Father Martin hears about this.” “Why?” one of my novice nonbelievers said.
they believe me. And so their doubt shifts, just a tiny, tiny bit, from one place to another. They may not believe in God, but they have their doubts, some little, some big, about the notion of godlessness. So I have that. And they do, too.” “And that makes you feel good?” “Vodka martinis—or really nice gin, say Tanqueray—make me feel good. Young adults going into the world who have made space in their minds for doubt? Who’ve allowed me to clear out all the rest of the clutter, leaving them
was hard not to feel God alive in the world, then. That’s how holy a man Henry was. Put him in one of the fastest street-legal cars of his day and years later, he’s not talking about chrome or horsepower or aerodynamics, he’s talking God. And all the while, he’s burying the lead, as the newspapermen say. Dancing, Mao. He’s talking instead about stuff I found incredibly boring in my preoccupied youth: God, vocations, and what the eucalyptus smells like when you tear past it at a blistering fifty
him. “Paul is no more the instigator of this than—” I began, stopped. “What?” Edgar said. “Your cigarettes,” I said, instead. “You’re not allowed to smoke up here. You’re not allowed to smoke, period.” “You do.” “Don’t add insouciance to your sins, Edgar,” I said, holding out my hand. “Paul has them.” “No, he doesn’t,” I said. Paul, to his shame, produced a pack of Marlboros. Great. Reds, which I hated. Martin did, too, though I’d not be sharing with him again anytime soon. “Thanks,” I
long I last, hunh?” There, I’d ruined it thoroughly. I can’t believe, Cecily said, and then stopped. That was enough, I thought. Yes. Absolutely. No second part needed to that sentence. “Did you…” and suddenly I had nothing to say, either. But I had to say something, so I decided to go with the only safe thing to say,…see the grief counselors? And it wasn’t until that moment, in fact, that I realized why we’d hired them. So teachers like me would have something to say when talking to students