BOOK ALERT: The Sabbatical by Michael D. O’Brien

I have just received a Kindle edition of the mystical Catholic writer Michael D. O’Brien’s new novel, The SabbaticalUS HERE – UK HERE

This is a sequel to The Father’s Tale.

I am excited to get to this soon.

The Father’s Tale – US HERE – UK HERE – was the story of a man who leaves his normal, comfortable life to go in search of his son who has fallen into a cult.   It is a
“prodigal son” story with twists and tendrils into Eliot and Hopkins and Russian writers.  That’s a massive reduction for such a massive work, over 1000 pages.    While I have often thought that O’Brien could have listened to his editor a little more often, each page turn remains oddly compelling.  Surely this is because O’Brien writes from depth and a rooting in a strong prayer life.  Look at his artwork sometime.  HERE

The Sabbatical is about one third the length of The Father’s Tale.

Sticking with O’Brien, some of you are in for a treat.  You get to discover his books.

I recommend the following.


Father Elijah

and then the series that hooks back into Father Elijah beginning with:

Strangers and Sojourners

Outside that series is his extremely successful venture into SciFi:

Voyage to Alpha Centauri

I believe his most recently released work was, brief and charming.

The Lighthouse.

I really liked that one.

In effect, you can choose where to dive in.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ave Maria says:

    I have been giving “The Lighthouse” as a gift even to a protestant.

  2. whoisthere says:

    I was surprised how much of a punch O’Brien packed into” The Lighthouse”. Found myself both laughing out loud and brought to near tears. We can all make wooden families, static things just to our liking, but it is only in the presence of others that we can create a home.

    While I don’t rank it as his best novel, “Sophia House” stands today as the only novel to have made me *weep*.

    I look forward to his latest!

  3. BeautifulSavior says:

    I just received my copy in the mail yesterday, read the prologue last night and it promised to be a great adventure again.
    Currently I am reading The Family & the New Totalitarianism which he wrote 24 years ago. I beg everyone to get a copy, we are there. This man is a prophet. I’m finishing ch 6 The new totalitarianism, ch 7 is Globalization and the new world order and ch 8 An examination of conscience. I haven’t been able to put this book down since I started reading. Only 251 pages.

    Last sentence in the book:
    Awake and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death… (Rev 3:2)

  4. KateD says:

    That’s so weird! Yesterday we tore the house apart looking for Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture. O’Brien had a bit in there where he describes how our brains process information delivered via various media. I can’t remember if he addressed gaming. Which is relevant when one has teenage boys….It’s not Galaga they play today.

    Anyway, I had NO idea he wrote fiction! Cool.

  5. Fr. Reader says:

    I just re-read Voyage to Alpha Centauri. The first time I thought it was very long. The second time I felt it was short.

  6. Ms. M-S says:

    I preordered the book a while back and will look for it in the mail, being a longtime fan of the author. Strangers and Sojourners is an amazing work of his. And if A Cry of Stone doesn’t wrench your heart you don’t have one!

  7. adriennep says:

    I just finished The Father’s Tale. Hard to believe that, after it taking two weeks out of my life, I should want to read more. I mean how can one want to re-read more than 1,000 pages, most of which are about being lost and tortured in Siberia? But that’s a Michael O’Brien novel for you. Not long ago I undertook reading all of his novels in what I thought was correct order. How is it possible to make a slog through turn of the century rural Canada ice flows and dense forests somehow page-turning and engaging? Well, he does and I willingly lost months out of my life for it. Now I think I need to re-read the entire Father Elijah series again, for that end of world thrill. But wait, a Father’s Tale sequel with The Sabbatical? Yep, that will have to be my next sacrifice to Michael O’Brien. It is important to support Catholic fiction, and fiction in general in this common core wasteland. Fiorella De Maria is another great author with female protagonists. Of course you will buy all your books through Father Z’s website.

    And please read a real book. Something this good needs to be tactile—held, turned, petted, and peeled away at by human fingers—and then to be held again in awe at the finish. The mind does not engage digital like it does with a real book.

  8. Philliesgirl says:

    Michael O’Brien is wonderful The first book of his that I read was Father Elijah and I couldn’t put it down. I think I lost hours of sleep because I simply couldn’t go to bed until I’d read another chapter, or two, or maybe three! And I do so agree about A Cry of Stone. The Lighthouse was really moving too. I will definitely get The Father’s Tale and The Sabbatical.

  9. Joe in Canada says:

    and he has a son who is a Jesuit!

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    Looking forward to reading The Sabbatical.

    Fr. Reader: Yep, same here. The After setting things up for a couple hundred pages things really get going.

    BeautifulSavior and KateD: LifeSite has some articles by O’Brien, here’s an essay:

    adriennep: The Father’s Tale is quite a novel. Good point about books.

    Ms. M-S: Strangers and Sojourners was a page turner, I’ll have to re-read that sometime. There’s history books and autobiographies, which are good. Then there is O’Brien following several generations of a family from before WW I through the twentieth century. Great read.

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    Michael D. O’Brien also wrote, as mentioned above, “Sophia House.” It is well worth a read.

    If I could, here are several comments on “Sophia House” from a January 2020 post “The Great Progressive Propaganda Machine” and ensuing discussion. Please be patient, the following is directly relevant to events of the last several weeks and will arrive at a point.


    From the 14 Jan 20 10:36am comment, which includes an excerpt from Sophia House:

    In his novel “Sophia House” Michael O’Brien tells a tale of totalitarianism, how symbols function in the mind, sexuality, good and evil, redemption and love.

    “Destroy?” Pawel replied nervously.

    “Yes, destroy. To destroy old values- false notions of good and evil- is to clear away the cultural rubble of millennia that is choking us, so that a new thing might be built. For us- me with my novels, and you with your painting- the destruction of artistic norms is the necessary precondition for acts of purest creation.”

    From the 14 Jan 20 3:43pm comment, which cites two quotes by the philosopher Roger Scruton followed by a look at a Newsweek article lauding a Snapchat filter:

    “Through the pursuit of beauty we shape the world as a home, and in doing so we both amplify our joys and find consolation for our sorrows.”

    “Beauty matters. It is not just a subjective thing but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need we find ourselves in a spiritual desert.”

    The second item is a Snapchat filter that alters photos from male to female and vice versa. Newsweek published an enthusiastic May 14, 2019, article with examples: “Snapchat’s New Gender Swap Filter Will Make You Question Your Identity.”

    There is artistic creativity that inspires and enriches, then there is creativity that- over time and repeated viewings- deforms, corrupts and destroys.


    All that said, in the last few days both Pres. Trump and journalist Jack Posobiec (fair disclosure: I agree with these two gentlemen on most issues) circulated the following meme that morphs together Pres. Bush and Rep. Liz Cheney (she is the daughter of former V.P. Dick Cheney, Pres. Bush supports her reelection, Pres. Trump is opposed as she voted for his impeachment and she is on the, to say the least, politically-charged “Jan. 6 Commission”).

    In the last several weeks:

    – On Sep. 11 Pres. Bush delivered a speech at the Flight 93 National Memorial commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks.

    – Posobiec later that day flew into a rage over his misreading of one paragraph and, among other things, repeated a conspiracy theory that Pres. Bush was responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center and thousands of deaths.

    – Pres. Trump two days later released a seriously flawed statement in response to Pres. Bush’s speech.

    – The Arizona audit released important findings last week.

    – In the last several days the Bush-Cheney-morph meme linked above was circulated by Pres. Trump via email and apparently displayed on a large-screen at his political rally Saturday night.

    Pres. Trump and Posobiec are heading down a dark road, they are persisting in toxic images and ego-driven agit-prop.

    The following is a comment regarding the last few weeks, not the events of Jan. 6 (it’s reasonable to say that Pelosi’s “Jan. 6 Commission” will be seriously problematic): a political movement that does not possess a fair measure of moral leadership, self-control, patience, prudence, intelligence and emotional restraint is probably a mob- a mob that through its own actions will probably aid and abet the Death Party currently rampaging in these United States. Good luck and God bless.

    “This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Pres. Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    If I could, a continuation of yesterday’s comment regarding overreaction, distorted messages and problematic images.

    A long decade ahead is likely. There will be bad days, sharp words, misunderstandings, and miscommunication. We’re all human, it happens. But, regardless of our frustration and eagerness to get in the fight, Death Party tactics are best left to the Death Party.

    We not only have the Facts on our side, but we also have the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

    Thomas Sowell:

    “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”


    Pres. Trump is not only a politician, he is a statesman- as he proves time and time again. Jack Posobiec is often a keen observer of goings-on foreign and domestic. Both gentlemen are asked not to make overreaction- it happens to all of us sometimes- a pattern, and thereby encourage it in others as a way of life.

    The Death Party is energized by Lies, it advances with Lies. They demand absolute control in order to conceal those lies. They are also Prideful, recognizing no authority above their own wonderful, marvelous, amazing selves.

    Thomas Sowell:

    “People who pride themselves on their “complexity” and deride others for being “simplistic” should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.”

    The Death Party modus operandi is to circumvent facts and truth by sloganeering, bullying and violence.

    Well, now they have another problem: some BLM activists appear to be turning against vaccine mandates, denouncing them as racist. Interesting. Though, that dissent may be squashed by internal BLM forces or by other Leftists externally, or it may be an internal power struggle bubbling to the surface, or it may simply be temporary disgruntlement. Perhaps there is an opportunity here, though it does require being clear-eyed about the irascibility of the average BLM activist.

    Thomas Sowell:

    “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.”

    This decade is likely to be both arduous and exceptional.

    So, perhaps we should Go Biblical, St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians-style, and gird our loins:

    “Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having shod your feet with the Gospel.”

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