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Hilaire Belloc - PB 130 Pages

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc, 1870-1853, was born in France of a French Catholic father and an English protestant mother. His mother later converted under the influence of Cardinal Manning, a good friend and mentor of Hilaire. His only sister, Marie Lowndes, was a fairly well-known writer like her brother Hilaire. Belloc’s father died young, leaving his widow in dire financial straits with two young children to support. They moved to England, and they settled in Slindon, West Sussex, where Belloc lived for most of his life.

In 1906, he married Elodi Hogan, from Napa California. Their brief but ecstatically happy marriage ended with her death in 1914, after she had borne him five children. He never remarried, and he wore mourning for the rest of his life.

This beautiful and precisely chiseled, almost fairy-taleish narrative, subtitled A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age, must certainly have been a poignant reminder that he himself had, by the inscrutable providence of God, been granted that deep measure of affection in his youth that is so idealistically pictured in Belinda, but denied that affection in old age that is equally well-depicted.

This brief novel of human love and affection idealized is a delightful and cheerful reminder that indeed, life can have its moments of beauty, if even only as a foretaste of the delights promised to those blessed with the grace of perseverance unto salvation.

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Hilaire Belloc
Though I've enjoyed Jane Austen movies like "Pride And Prejudice", I never thought I'd read a romance novel. But this one I decided to try because it's by the great Catholic writer Hillaire Belloc. And at 130 pages, it's not long. The back cover of the book says Belloc's "ecstatically happy" 8-year-marriage to Elodi Hogan from Napa, California, in which they had 5 children, inspired this book. She died in 1914. Will the beautiful Belinda and the somewhat poor Horatio get together in the book? I don't want to spoil it for you. At the end a brief bit on first love and regret (P. 114) comes in with an older couple, not Belinda and Horatio. Here is some of Belloc's writing from the novel I enjoyed:

"(Y)outh ... is the heaven of our days." (19)

"I am a wanderer ... I propose to pursue my way in poverty, abandoned and alone: nor seek to turn me from my purpose." - Horatio (78,71)

"those pure eyes which had in them also the hidden flame of Heaven." - on Belinda (63)

"Alas! that such qualities of intelligence and will should be allied to so unscrupulous a morale: yet such is, indeed, too often the case!" (45)

"So true is it that one evil deed leads to another, and that what first our conscience will hardly permit we soon repeat with shameless ease!" (61)

"Final Justice ... it behooves us all to dread" (100)
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