Best Catholic novel

What is the best Catholic novel you have ever read, and what did you like about it?



“Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh comes to mind. I like how it shows how subtly God’s grace can work in us. I think it is a very beautiful novel, and there are extremely powerful moments in it.

I also love Evelyn Waughs’ earlier novels, they are sooo funny, with much satirical commentary on society, but also overtly nihilistic. I love that it is so clear through his writing that he had a change of heart and a massive growth in faith somewhere in his life.

Actually, great thread. Novels that have a reference to Catholic life in them seem to be quite rare. Hopefully I will find some suggestions here.

Brother Elijah by Michael O Brien

all Michael O Brien Novels

I’m sure you mean “Father Elijah”.

I agree that all of Michael O’Brien’s novels are worth reading.

I especially liked “Island of the World”, and “The Father’s Tale”.

He is an excellent Catholic writer.

Pierced by a Sword - Bud McFarlane

Absolutely instrumental in my becoming the Catholic I am today.


His early novels were not really nihilistic…just appeared so on the surface. He pillored the modern world, modern mores and secular world views (Vile Bodies is a great example of this). He just didn’t say explicitly about what he actually was in favor of until Brideshead, other than his nonfiction works (travel books and Campion).

The Trilogy of the Ring. JRR Tolkein

The value of suffering and self sacificial love.

Priest ,one who offers sacrifice- Prophet, one who speaks the truth to change hearts - King, one who leads by example

Frodo, - Gandalf, - Aragon

Gliggle: Evelyn is a man? Always thought this author was a woman!

Goerget and Dorothty: You forgot to say what you like about Michael O’Brian novels! Please elaborate!

Lizaane: Why was ‘Pierced by a sword’ so instrumental in your conversion?

Anyone else wants to share what is the best Catholic novel he or she has read and what he or she liked about it?

Can’t wait to find out more!


The back story was that the characters actually LIVED their faith, every minute of every day. It was not simply something they did on Sunday, but it is how they lived, moved, breathed. This made a huge impression on me. I knew that I could have a life where I was surrounded by solid Catholic friends, and live my life that way. It took a lot of pain and difficulty to get my life to that point, but it has been so very worth it. I am now living the life I was once told by someone I was dating was only “a fairy tale”.

If I had not read that book, I don’t think I ever would have understood the concept of truly **living **one’s faith, because I was not otherwise exposed to that in my own life. The example the characters in book gave me was priceless.


Waugh visited africa on some sort of journalistic assignment, and an italian official there (must have been ethopia) had flowers ready for him, thinking him a female romantic prospect…

Waugh’s first wife’s name was Evelyn.

If, by Catholic novel, you mean one where the main story revolves around being Catholic and living the faith, then my favorite is “How Firm a Foundation” by Marcus Grodi (this is actually his conversion story, thinly hidden as a work of fiction, but with a thrilling plot!)

If you mean a novel where the characters just happen to be Catholic, but the story centers around, say, a mystery (my favorite genre!) then I recommend Mary Higgins Clark’s romantic suspense novels (especially her last half dozen or so… the lady has written over thirty!) or Aimee and David Thurlo’s Sister Agatha mysteries.

I’ll throw a curve ball into the hat (and mix some metaphors), but I’d have to nominate “Odd Thomas” by Dean Koontz.

Some points in favor:

  1. “Service” is considered to be a great good, in contrast to “I will not serve” as an ethos (oddly enough, present in a great many works).

  2. The main character is content to be a fry cook and little else in life, not because he can’t do more, but because he is humble and content to serve.

  3. There is a strong contrast between good and evil. Evil is tangible and recognizable, not a “gray” area like much modern material.

“Brother Odd” is even more explicitly Catholic (in Dean Koontz’ understated fashion) and portrays the Religious in a great light, unlike most of the garbage floating around today.

Let me add (for those who might prefer something “grittier”) James Patterson’s Det. Michael Bennett series. NYPD detective Michael Bennett has 10 kids and a grandfather who’s a monsignor… not your typical NY cop! But this IS James Patterson, so it’s not for the faint of heart… you will love Mike, but the criminals are grossly twisted.

I don’t have an immediate favorite, but wanted to recommend “The Second Coming” by Walker Percy which I read this year.
In these times, when people are trying out different religions, seeking a ‘good fit’, Percy offers a novel that moves through and discards option after option until…
Well, you’ll just have to read it for yourself!:thumbsup:

This is what I like about Michael D. O’Brien’s novels:

Some of them are quite long, 1,000 pages give or take a few, and when you are finished reading, you are sorry that it is over. He writes in four dimensions, the spiritual comes across without being “in-your-face” about it. There is nothing salacious in his novels. Sometimes it just takes one page for the story to take a sharp turn (several times in one novel). You can read the reviews of others on Amazon.

I am fortunate to have a friend who has most of his novels, and I will be borrowing the rest of them, one by one. :slight_smile:

heheh I used to think he was a woman once too!

Another one I thought of with a very Catholic World view is “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. I remember this book was like a breath of fresh air to me after reading too many novels in a row set in the dry secular modern world. Even though it is not about Catholicism specifically, as I recall it acknowledges the kingdom of God just through its style and on almost every page. It’s a really fun book too! Has everything. Adventure, comedy, tragedy, pathos, fantastic characters.

Wasn’t the antagonist a priest? I had heard it was an anti-catholic book.


yes, there is definately a very evil priest in the story! But it is not anti-Catholic. That would be a very simplistic view of the story. Also there is such things as priests who have evil ways… I don’t think good Catholic literature should ignore reality.

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