There are several extraordinary Catholic novels, but most times people do recommend 1,000-page volumes that are impossible to carry anywhere, and which don’t really fit the spirit of summer vacation.
Below are novels which are truly for beach reading. All you need to do is, take your bag, a cold drink, and lounge in the sun with one of the following great Catholic novels!
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
This is one of the very favorite Catholic novels. Waugh is a master of the human condition who seamlessly traces the threads of grace sewn through the life of Mr. Charles Ryder. The pain of religion and romance, family drama and haute culture drive the story of Ryder’s love for the Flyte family. Nostalgia for Oxford university days, strawberries, Venice and steamships punctuate this extraordinary account of friendship and divine grace.
Back Bay Books. 432 pages.
In this House of Brede by Rumer Godden
This House of Brede is one novel of that portrays monastic life and it does not disappoint. Being attentive to the details of religious observance, Rumor Godden has bottled life in a monastery and he poured it out on these pages. Philippa Talbot who is her protagonist abandons her successful London-based career to join the nuns of the fictional Benedictine Brede Abbey. As it captures the conflicts and tension of community life, this story of Brede leaves readers longing for a share of the monastery’s charity and peace.
Loyola Classics. 368.
Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen
This novel is part of saintly legend, and part of detective story, Ron Hansen’s novel calls his readers to ask a question as pious as it is horrific: is Mariette Baptiste a stigmatic? As Mariette is a postulant, who has longed to enter the monastery her whole life. When she finally does, she begins to receive ecstasies, including the stigmata. The nuns of the monastery must then deduce, however, if Mariette’s pieties are real. But be warned: bold and fleshy writing make this novel not for the faint of heart.
Harper Perennial. 192 pages,
The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor
By now, many readers have come to know Flannery O’Connor through her short stories. The Violent Bear it Away is satirical, ironic, and compassionate, as O’Connor tells the story of a young boy who refuses his call to mission, as he promotes the reader to meditate on religious authenticity, faith, and fate.
The initial collection of Chesterton’s legendary short stories offers the first twelve mystery stories of the innocent but perceptive Father Brown. An amusing, ingenious, and unconventional detective, Father Brown challenges the legacy of every sleuth before or since. These light-hearted stories reveal keen psychological insight the reader rarely suspects.
Createspace; Centennial edition. 174 pages.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Okay, fine, Willa Cather is not a Catholic. But she has a pass and makes this list anyhow, because this novel portrays a profound Catholic. Cather’s novel talks about the arrival of New Mexico’s first Catholic bishop. Cather tells the clear and spiritual tale of saintly and vicious clergy, based on two historical figures, Jean-Baptiste Lamy and Joseph Projectus Machebeuf, animated by the region’s tradition and lore.
Vintage. 297 pages.
Printer’s Choice by W.L. Patenaude
This is a morality tale worthy of the name, Patenaude’s debut sci-fi novel which investigates the contest of religious faith and free will as outer space is rocked by its first homicide.
Set in 2088, boasting ecological and technological themes dear to the author, Patenaude’s novel can’t never resist asking the biggest questions about the nature and meaning of life in the engaging context of his murder mystery.
Izzard Ink. 334 pages.