A likeable and very readable story of a convent/girl’s school in 1958. The Reverend Mother initially comes across as a neurotic Captain Bligh type of character and one even begins to question her sanity after awhile. The present pope has just died and everyone in the Catholic world at the time is curious as to who the new pope will be.
It is also a time of the rise of Communism in Russia, Sputnik, and social changes as well, leaving the older generation (like the strict Reverend Mother) confused as to enforcing the Holy Rule in the convent/school and the changing social behaviours of not only the students but the nuns as well. At one point, Sister Martha, one of the popular teaching nuns questions her faith and Catholicism as well: “She (Sister Martha) was a fraud encased in a religious habit, pretending to live a holy life. When had prayer become meaningless? And now he (the pope) was gone, the only mouthpiece of God was Reverend Mother. Heaven help the world if there was no one else to give out God’s will except Reverend Mother with her leathery face and spying underling. A pope shouldn’t die and leave the world bereft like that.”
I was disappointed that Holy Rule ended a little abruptly, leaving certain story lines unfinished. It almost seems like Holy Rule is 2/3rds of a story instead of a full novel. Perhaps a sequel was on the mind of Ms Coady? It would have been nice to see how the Reverend Mother eventually fared, how students Gwen, Brooke, Sally and J.J. and the other principal characters developed and what St. Monica’s would have been like with a full-time priest (the lecherous Father Brody) on staff.
At any rate, Holy Rule is an interesting drama set inside the walls of a convent during a time of stressful upheaval in the Church. From Inanna Publications.