Catholic writers have made a rich contribution to British fiction, despite their minority status. Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Muriel Spark are well-known examples, but there are many other significant novelists whose work has a Catholic aspect. This is the first book to survey the whole range of this material and examine whether valid generalizations can be made about it. In charting such fiction from its development in the Victorian period through to the work of contemporaries such as David Lodge, the author analyses its complex relationships with changes in British society and the international Church. There is more than one way of being a Catholic, as Woodman shows, but he also demosntrates that many of these writers share common themes and a distinctive perspective. They often wish in particular to use their religion as a weapon against what they portray as a complacent Protestant or secular society. Their consciousness of writing in the midst of such a society gives a special edge to their treatments of the perennial Catholic themes of suffering, sin and sex. It also has implications for literary form and relates to what has been seen as the extremist mode of Catholic fiction. The final question that Woodman puts is whether the changes in the Church since the Second Vatican Council must inevitably lead to the loss of this distinctive Catholic contribution to the novel.
"The comparative rarity of survey studies of Catholic novelists makes Woodman's text welcome in itself. Furthermore, the writer's extremely tight construction and economical style, and his succinct treatment of the sociological, political, and theological context for the developing sophistication of the novelists discussed, makes this a convincing and valuable overview which may encourage others to further consider the unique strategies of religious writesr in an increasingly secular and chaotic age."~Journal of Language, Literature, and Culture
" Faithful Fictions is not only an informative and useful study of the Catholic novel; it has an immediately practical value since it brings to attention certain writers who deserve a wider readership, such as the Orkney poet and novelist George Mackay Brown. But its value is more substantial, for the themes and formal conventions isolated and ably discussed by Woodman are not unique to Catholic novels."~The Canadian Catholic Review
"The book has much to commend it: its broad survey of 'Catholic fiction' will introduce some readers to new material and remind others of books they had forgotten. It is a comprehensive and useful commentary on a large number of novels published in the last one hundred and fifty years."~Literature and Theology
"I found the book rich in references and I was inspired to follow up some of the works I had missed out on. It is a book for libraries as well as general reading and will reawaken discussions as to whether a Catholic novel can really exist."