Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy
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By Rumer Godden
Before she was La Balafrée—the Scarred One—one of post-War Paris’s most notorious and successful madams, Lise was simply Elizabeth Fanshawe, a young Englishwoman with a spirit of adventure. A chance encounter with Patrice Ambard, whose hypnotic charm belies an inescapable sadism, draws Lise into the destructive, depraved world of prostitution. Only after a sudden and shocking crime does she find release, followed by respite and renewal at the convent of Belle Source as Soeur Marie Lise of the Sisters of Béthanie. There she recounts, through a mesmerizing series of flashbacks, her sorry and sobering story.
They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.…
Go yea and learn what that meaneth. -The Gospel of Matthew
Yet even as she makes peace with the past, the legacy of sin and destruction is rearing its head to strike at the very heart of Béthanie. Combining extraordinary empathy with relentless candor, Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy is a beautifully wrought account of sin and mercy, showing that with God the impossible is not only possible—but it happens.
Rumer Godden (1907–1998) was among the most distinguished English authors of the twentieth century, writing dozens of novels and children’s books, as well as an assortment of non-fiction works. A convert to Catholicism, she placed the mysteries of God, salvation, and sin at the center of her most popular works, among which are Black Narcissus, Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, and In This House of Brede.