Black Narcissus : A Virago Modern Classic, Paperback Book

Black Narcissus : A Virago Modern Classic Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


High in the Himalayas near Darjeeling, the old mountaintop palace shines like a jewel.

When it was the General's 'harem' palace, richly dressed ladies wandered the windswept terraces; at night, music floated out over the villages and gorges.

Now, the General's son has bestowed it on an order of nuns, the Sisters of Mary.Well-intentioned yet misguided, the nuns set about taming the gardens and opening a school and dispensary for the villagers.

They are dependent on the local English agent of Empire, Mr Dean; but his charm and insolent candour are disconcerting. And the implacable emptiness of the mountain, the ceaseless winds, exact a toll on the Sisters.When Mr Dean says bluntly, 'This is no place for a nunnery,' it is as if he foresees their destiny...


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Nun's the word. Ya heard? Seriously though, I love nun themed stories, films, name it. Even fake nuns fascinate me. Remember Nuns on the Run and all the Sister Act movies? Exactly. They're hip, devoted, sweet, stern, selfless, and well...sometimes down right scary!I fell in love with the film adaptation of Godden's Black Narcissus many years ago, and vowed to read the book because there were certain aspects of the plot that I didn't really understand. Now that I've read it, I am even more fascinated and enamored with the concept this book. A small order of nuns are invited high into the Himalayas to set up a convent in a rundown palace that once served as a king's harem. At first daunted by the altitude, pagan mountain people, and the unmatched beauty of the peaks, they're eventually lulled into the spirit of the palace. As their spirituality wanes, each sister is tried out by their own secret desires. Godden laid the plot and different perspectives in a wonderful way! You never knew what was around the corner, but you were constantly reminded that something sinister was afoot. “Sometimes it seemed to him that the house had a bad wild life of its own; the impression of its evil lingered, in its name, in its atmosphere...”Because most of her books are out of print, I find myself always on the lookout when I visit bookstores and thrift shops. I've been pretty fortunate! In fact just this week I was fortunate to catch the movie adaptation of her book The Battle of the Villa Fiorita on TCM, starring Maureen O'Hara, and then later that week I found a vintage copy at a local nonprofit bookstore. What a coincidence! I think it's safe to say that Godden is "golden."