Item description for Sophia House (Children of the Last Days) by Michael O'Brien...
Overview Sophia House is set in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation. Pawel Tarnowski, a bookseller, gives refuge to David Schdfer, a Jewish youth who has escaped from the ghetto, and hides him in the attic of the book shop. Throughout the winter of 1942-43, haunted by the looming threat of discovery, they discuss good and evil, sin and redemption, literature and philosophy, and their respective religious views of reality. Decades later, David becomes a convert to Catholicism, is the Carmelite priest Fr. Elijah Schdfer called by the Pope to confront the Anti-christ in Michael O'Brien's best-selling novel, Father Elijah: an Apocalypse.
Promise Angels is dedicated to bringing you great books at great prices. Whether you read for entertainment, to learn, or for literacy - you will find what you want at promiseangels.com!
Michael O'Brien, iconographer, painter, and writer, is the popular author of many best-selling novels including Father Elijah, The Father's Tale, Eclipse of the Sun, Sophia House, Theophilos, and Island of the World. His novels have been translated into twelve languages and widely reviewed in both secular and religious media in North America and Europe. He lives in Ontario with his wife, Sheila, and family.
Reviews - What do customers think about Sophia House (Children of the Last Days)?
Too good for words Dec 6, 2007
I cannot even begin to describe how good this book is. And I'm considered by my friends as an extremely critical (of books and films) person.
On the surface, this book is about homosexuality, art, and Poland during WWII.
But it goes so much deeper than that, probing and illuminating the meaning of Fatherhood, Beauty, Longing, and the Holy.
Its a book influenced by Judaism, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Nazism, Modernism, and Mysticism.
Some passages, in their prose, border on the best kind of poetry. There are several passages in this book that have burned into my mind. I don't think I shall forget them until I die.
If you love Dostoevsky, you'll love this book.
I know this is such a bad review. I didn't even try to explain it, because it is too good for that.
You really will not regret reading this, no matter what your background.
[btw, due to the disturbing (non-graphic) content, I wouldn't recommend this for anyone under the age of 15.]
Almost great literary fiction Aug 29, 2007
I like Michael O'Brien's political and religious sensibilities and I think he's an excellent icon painter. Nonetheless, having now read both Father Elijah and Sophia House, I have been less than impressed by these books. They are written in the tradition of the great literary novel, and have some of the feel of a 19th Century Russian classic. They are deeply philosophical and rich in symbolism. And yet something intangible is missing, and they seem to me to fall a little flat. The pages and pages of philosophical dialogue are interesting at first but then seem to drone and ramble on, getting less and less interesting, as if the author is writing one of those limitless 'dialogues with self'. The characters are philosophically inclined, and yet seem to lack a more fundamental depth and color of character - for instance, David Shafer in Sophia House, though a major character, is simply too one-sided and predictable to the point of being unreal. Same with the Count, and with most other characters who appear as caricatures of sorts - the exception being Tarnowski, who does struggle with his own orientation, but doesn't really ever waiver enough. Even his years in Paris are a kind of unreal dream, since he is never really tempted, only forced or unwittingly duped into situations that humiliate him. He struggles with his past, but he never really comes to terms with himself as a person. Even at the end of the book, when he finally does something "great", he doesn't seem to really "get himself" as a person - who was he all these years, and what drove him? Has he really emerged from the self-deception into self-understanding? Altogether the book was disappointing to me, though I wanted to like it. It is a good attempt at a classic, but IMHO, it is not quite there. Perhaps the future ones will get there.
Two grievously wounded men search for God and find Him in each other. Jun 22, 2006
Michael O'Brien's Sophia House is the "prequel" to another masterpiece of his, Father. Elijah: An Apocalypse, which I've also reviewed.
In Sophia House, O'Brien reintroduces us to a young David Schäfer, who was to become Father Elijah much later. O'Brien paints for us David's existence in his hiding place in Warsaw, the dusty attic of Pawel Tarnowski's bookshop, which O'Brien previously sketched in Father. Elijah: An Apocalypse.
Now, in Sophia House, O'Brien slowly--at times, too slowly--paints the relationship that developed between David, the fugitive son of a Jewish Orthodox zadiq or "saint" who was killed in the Holocaust, and Pawel Tarnowski, a book antiquarian and a frustrated artist with a secret: he suffers from same-sex attraction. Tarnowski is a homosexual person, psychologically damaged in his childhood when a granduncle and failed priest molested him. Tarnowski spent his life resisting his inclination, first by pursuing an artistic vocation and then, by practicing prayer and contemplation. Slowly, steadily, God turned him into a mystic with the mission of being the protector of a young man who later became God's instrument in a critical mission at the End Times.
The encounter between David and Tarnowski triggered an exchange of ideas and dreams. Their tragedies became intertwined. David becomes aware of something wonderful, ineffable, transcending the confines of his rich Jewish faith, yet he never embraced in this insight in this book. Tarnowski, on the other hand, in an ultimate act of love--charis, agape--becomes Jewish without stopping from being Catholic. How is this possible? Because he took David's place in the gas chamber, giving his life for the young man and in atonement for his own sins and that of others, forgiving all, forgiving even himself. Tarnowski becomes a Christ figure in the worst place on earth.
Well, I love this book, but I warn the reader that Sophia House is more cerebral than Father. Elijah: An Apocalypse. It is not as fast-paced as the previous work. Tarnowski's circumspect, taciturn nature is so intense that some of the dialogues seemed to drag on too long for him. Tarnowski's nature makes him too detached and a reluctant participant in these exchanges that so captivated David. O'Brien gets it right at the end but while one wades through these chapters, one wonders if the dialogue would get deeper, or if it will ever end with some resolution. This defect is very minor and it does not affect the novel's trajectory and goal, which are a meditation on the nature of good and evil and of the God who is present in the worst places, at the worst times, shining through deeply flawed human beings striving to keep His Image and Likeness pristine in their souls.
All things considered: Sophia House is good. It is literature, and that's the best thing I can say of any book I read.
Sophia House is a great read! Oct 2, 2005
I highly recommend Sophie House! The author dedicates this book this way, "For those whose sacrifice is hidden in the heart of God, those whose "small" choices shift the balance of the world" and that says it all. This book leaves a simple reader with the belief that (a paraphrase from a character), " a life is a word spoken" Unforgettable!
Story of a soul Sep 22, 2005
This is a preview to the book Father Elijah, but it is actually the story of the spiritual struggles of the hero, Pawel Tarnowsky. Superficially, the plot is about how the owner of "Sophia House" bookstore, who one day is confronted with a Jewish lad fleeing from the Nazis. He takes him in, and hides him, and they converse about various things, and at the climax, Pawel stays behind so David can get away. But the real story is Pawel's spiritual journey. He must not only confront and overcome his own sinful impulses, but his main struggle is to be healed in the wounds of his own soul. So we see a man struggling with loneliness, homosexuality, and unforgiveness...and the real climax is when he learns to feel charity for those who hurt him, because he learns to see them as hurt and wounded children rather than as evil sinners... The "old fashioned" morality behind this struggle will put off many. And the compassionate viewing of a holy gay man will turn off many rigid moralists. But for those who wish to see a sensitive portrayal of a man's journey to wholeness and peace, then I recommend this book..