Not long ago I asked -- where are the Catholic novelists? My cyber friend Bill [oops I meant Rodak] suggested that I check out Ron Hansen. His latest novel Exiles is about Gerard Manley Hopkins, the great Victorian Catholic poet. So I checked it out.
The novel really follows two stories. One is the fate of five German nuns, exiled during the Kulturkampf, who died when their ship taking them to American ran aground off England. The second story is of Hopkins struggles within the Jesuit order, a struggle mirrored by his attempt to write a poem about the maritime disaster . The resulting poem, "The Wreck of the Deutschland" is considered one of Hopkins best, but he paid a price. Like some many heroic and holy people, he suffered from the "Dark Night."
The novel is a Catholic one in that it examines the motivations of people for vocations. But it is not a theological novel in the spirit of Brideshead Revisited.