Obedience, Jacqueline Yallop's American debut, carefully weaves two timelines together: today, a convent in a remote part of France is closing its doors, propelling its three remaining residents into the cold, vast, secular world. Sixty years ago, during the Second World War, young Sister Bernard accepts an invitation to meet a German soldier in an empty church and finds herself in the middle of a passionate love affair. When Sister Bernard stops hearing the voice of God, as she always has, she begins to question everything she has ever known, or thought she knew: her faith, her God and her obedience.

These two alternating storylines converge as Sister Bernard reenters the world outside the convent, where she is faced with the harsh fact that no amount of solitude or prayer has erased what she has done--or, perhaps more important, others' memory of it. Thus, Obedience quickly becomes a novel in which the past dominates, proving to be both historical fiction and a careful examination of the inescapable past, of how it influences the present and the future. Though these subjects prove large enough for many writers, Yallop does not stop there; Obedience forces readers to consider questions of judgment, and of blame and guilt, and of what it really means to act in the name of love. Yallop's simple prose carries both storylines through what could easily have become a cumbersome narrative, and her stark recounting of events proves the perfect balance to the emotionally wrought story of Sister Bernard. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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