by Robert Hugh Benson is one of the best books I've ever read. It reminded me a bit of Crossbows and Crucifixes, except this one is for older/mature readers or listeners. The author does a wonderful job keeping the reader's attention throughout the story, making it a great possibility for a read-aloud, in which case some younger children might be able to listen since the story could be "edited" by the reader if necessary.*
Set in Elizabethan England, when Catholics were persecuted, this is a wonderful love story. (If you don't like love stories, please read it anyway, because it's not the usual kind.) I can't say it's the greatest, because, as Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said, "The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host." Additionally, Robert Hugh Benson portrays the beauty of sacrifice and of the priesthood. He shows the meaning of true love, both for God and for your fellow men.
Now for a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
"A broken heart and God's will done would be better than that God's will should be avoided and her own satisfied."
"To love is to wish the other's highest good, as I understand it...That is the love of a Christian, at least."
This last one is (at least close to) what Mary Stuart, also known as Mary Queen of Scots said before she died: "As Thy arms, O Christ, were extended on the Cross, even so receive me into the arms of Thy mercy and blot out all my sins with Thy most precious Blood." Isn't that just beautiful?
*Two characters kiss on the lips, which shouldn't be done before marriage, but there's nothing wrong with the book aside from that. Most of the editing would probably need to be done later on in the book at the parts with the rack, as younger (or more sensitive listeners) might have a hard time with those bits. Although I will say, it's very inspiring to read about things like that happening to people, especially with the way the world is today.