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Seminary Boy


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/ Key title / Includes PS Section One of the most extraordinary memoirs of recent years, the acclaimed writer John Cornwell has finally written his own story, and the story of a choice he had to make between the Church and a life lived outside its confines. / One of the most extraordinary memoirs of recent years, 'Seminary Boy' is written with tremendous warmth and humour by acclaimed and internationally bestselling writer John Cornwell. / The choice made by Cornwell as a young boy to join the Church is captivating and eye-opening. / 'Earth to Earth' won the non-fiction Gold-Dagger Award; 'Hitler's Scientists: Science, War and the Devil's Pact' won the Science and Medical Network Book of the Year prize for 2005; and 'Hitler's Pop' was an international bestseller. / Competition: The Speckled People, Angela's Ashes

About the Author

John Cornwell is an award-winning journalist and author. `Hitler's Pope' was an international bestseller, and he won the non-fiction Gold Dagger Award for `Earth to Earth', the story of a West Country family tragedy. His story of the Louisville Prozac trial, `Power To Harm', received international acclaim, and his recent history, `Hitler's Scientists: Science, War and the Devil`s Pact', won the Science and Medical Network book of the year prize for 2005. Cornwell is a Fellow Commoner of Jesus College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Cornwell, author, journalist, and fellow at Jesus College in Cambridge, England, here tells the story of his life at an all-male school in the 1950s. Son of a struggling working-class family in London, John was sent to Cotton College to become a Catholic priest. Here, during his teen years, he experienced the best and worst of pre-Vatican II seminary life. Some of his teachers were pious and dedicated men; others were sexual predators. He had close friendships and fierce rivalries with other boys and felt forbidden romantic attractions. Though Cornwell chose not to continue into the priesthood, this book is not a denunciation of the system. Instead, it is a bittersweet recollection of a vanished world of religious insights and social isolation that profoundly influenced the author's character. Part spiritual odyssey, part boarding school story, Cornwell's well-crafted memoir is filled with vivid descriptions of people and places and a young boy's struggle to find himself. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/06.]-C. Robert Nixon, MLS, Lafayette, IN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

'"Seminary Boy" is a complex story written with beautiful and brutal exactness!an intensely involving, carefully paced book by one of the most thoughtful and well-informed of Catholic writers. A story about the loss of faith and its eventual return, it has the hold of good fiction and the grip of sober truth.' Guardian 'What makes it so gripping (and it is one of the most gripping memoirs I have read for years) is its incisive style.' Sunday Times 'Apart from its beautiful writing, what stamps "Seminary Boy" as a classic story of growing up is the kaleidoscope of perspectives it offers on the mystery of being!Layer after layer of art and truth compete for your attention, and the ambiguities are intrinsic to the power of the writing.' Spectator 'Deserves a place along side David Lodges "How Far Can You Go?" as an affectionate but unblinking evocation of a unique era of English Catholicism, now in danger of beng forgotten.' Tablet 'The true journey of a soul.' Tobias Wolff

By age 11, Cornwell had a well-deserved reputation as "an academic reject and troublemaker." Besides running with young thugs in London's East End, he had attacked a nun, a teacher at his school. But after a stranger molested him, he became a devout altar boy and, two years later, a priest-in-training at Cotton College. There he lost his Cockney accent, felt schoolboy crushes and constantly wrestled with an overzealous conscience, his scruples exacerbated by priest-teachers ranging from rigid to predatory. Helping him navigate stormy adolescence was the brilliant and sensible Father Armishaw, literature teacher and music lover, who cared for him as his own troubled father and volatile mother were never able to do. Readers who objected to Cornwell's controversial bestseller Hitler's Pope may not appreciate his portrayal of Catholics in the 1950s, and the memoir police may accuse him of erring on the side of invention, especially since he kept no diaries. Despite its occasional touch of narcissism-his culminating struggle is with "the embodiment of all those in my life who had failed to see my worth"-the book is a fine read. With a literary novelist's eye for detail and ear for dialogue, Cornwell has written a psychologically astute and often touching coming-of-age story. (June 13) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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