The last three remaining nuns are facing the closure of their convent – two are destined for an old people’s home and one is planning to go and live with her friend. The ending of their way of life brings back memories, particularly for the main character, 90-year-old Sister Bernard. What she recalls is shocking. Sister Bernard’s physical desire for a Nazi soldier has led directly to tragedy. The reader has to do quite a lot of work filling in the gaps, as the action and emotions are often suggested rather than made explicit. None of the characters is particularly likeable, and it is difficult not to share the anger of the locals towards the errant nun.
This novel places its main emphasis on the interior life of the characters, and it is not for those seeking a thrill-filled adventure. However, in its exploration of character, difficult choices and passionate feelings, many readers may find a great deal of interest. Writers such as Hilary Mantel and AS Byatt have both provided quotes stating their admiration for this book, and if you like these authors, this is another of that ilk.