Ken Tucker
May 20, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Exiles

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ron Hansen
publisher
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
genre
Fiction, History

We gave it an A

As a reader who’s always found most historical novels about as convincing as fact-based TV movies, I’d never have tried one about 19th-century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins were it not for Ron Hansen (Mariette in Ecstasy), one of our best novelists. Exiles zeroes in on one short period of Hopkins’ life — circa 1875, when, as a Jesuit seminarian in Wales, he read about the death of five nuns in the sinking of a steamship and wrote what became a famous poem, ”The Wreck of the Deutschland.” Hansen conveys a man conflicted by his callings as both a spiritual vessel and a full-blooded artist. A

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