Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Household Saints

Household Saints (1981) is a lovely little novel by Francine Prose. I've also read Prose's Blue Angel, which was supposed to have been titillating but I found completely forgettable. It turns out the most titillating bit was the cover.

Really good cover.

Household Saints is about a group of Italian-Americans, religion, superstition, food, and family. I love reading about other cultures, and this book neatly fit the bill. The characters are those imperfect yet lovable galoots - the main character is a cheating butcher who plays pinochle, you get the idea...

The book manages to transcend mere problems with the mother-in-law, and Prose's ... uh, prose is simple and elegant. What I found interesting was how religion and spirituality played out in the book. Within one family, the daughter is very religious, but the parents are not, causing some conflict. The extent of their religion (they are not a-religious) was never really in question until they had a saint-like daughter. Having a saint-like daughter makes them both more and less religious than they were before.

While religion is a major theme in Prose's book, it's not a morality tale (Thank God! - ha) and doesn't read like (heaven forbid [somebody stop me!]) Christian lit.

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