Saturday, September 01, 2018

Review of 'How Far Can You Go?' by David Lodge

I think an apology is in order, to all my Catholic friends. I'm sorry, I didn't realise how miserable it has been. We joke about how there's Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt, and it means we have something in common in this C of E country...but nothing in my Jewish upbringing was remotely like the misery the young Catholics in this novel experience.

It's a story about a cohort of Catholic students and a few others around them (like the junior chaplain at their London college) and the way that the developments in Catholicism and the church play out in their lives. It's fascinating, and a bit frightening, because I had no idea that anyone in the modern world took any of this stuff seriously - I mean, I'd heard about indulgences and so on, but I had no idea that they were still a thing in my lifetime.

The book is - probably rightly - focused on sex, and occasionally love - so it's also an account of the 'sexual revolution' of the 1960s and 1970s, at least as experienced by a group of mainly middle-class educated Catholics. The reviews and the blurb indicate that it's supposed to be a comic novel, but though I enjoyed it there weren't many laughs, or even smiles.

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