Impossible Saints: Book summary and reviews of Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood

Impossible Saints

by Clarissa Harwood

Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood X
Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published in USA  Jan 2018
    304 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Set in England in 1907, Impossible Saints is a novel that burns as brightly as the suffrage movement it depicts, with the emotional resonance of Tracy Chevalier and Jennifer Robson.

Escaping the constraints of life as a village schoolmistress, Lilia Brooke bursts into London and into Paul Harris's orderly life, shattering his belief that women are gentle creatures who need protection. Lilia wants to change women's lives by advocating for the vote, free unions, and contraception. Paul, an Anglican priest, has a big ambition of his own: to become the youngest dean of St. John's Cathedral. Lilia doesn't believe in God, but she's attracted to Paul's intellect, ethics, and dazzling smile.

As Lilia finds her calling in the militant Women's Social and Political Union, Paul is increasingly driven to rise in the church. They can't deny their attraction, but they know they don't belong in each other's worlds. Lilia would rather destroy property and serve time in prison than see her spirit destroyed and imprisoned by marriage to a clergyman, while Paul wants nothing more than to settle down and keep Lilia out of harm's way. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"A rich debut. Grounded in a wealth of research into the suffrage movement, the book will please readers who enjoy detailed historical recreations. With insight and sensitivity, Harwood explores century-old social mores and challenges that still echo loudly today." - Publishers Weekly

"The perspective is refreshing in that the church is not the villain, nor are all the suffragettes cardboard cutouts. One interesting aspect is the novel's exploration of the contrast in ideologies between the more conservative, peaceful suffrage groups and the militant, property-destroying Women's Social and Political Union. This parallels the spectrum in today's protest-heavy atmosphere, lending the novel contemporary social relevance in addition to its romantic plotline." - Booklist

"An engrossing historical romance. By 1928, all British women over 21 could vote; readers will root for Lilia and Paul's romance to have a similarly happy ending. For lovers of romantic historical fiction from the Brontës to Tracy Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring)." - Library Journal

"This frustrating but tender romance, teetering between hope and despair, doubtless represents many relationships challenged by change. The story is best for readers interested in women's rights and the British suffrage movement." - Historical Novels Review

"A simply riveting read from cover to cover, Impossible Saints is an original and consistently entertaining, narrative driven novel by a writer with a genuine flair for both originality and deftly crafted characters." - Midwest Book Review

"Anyone pining for a passionate yet principled historical romance will fall hard for this impossibly readable story. It's the perfect thing for a long weekend. But months later, readers will still recall the harrowing descriptions of imprisoned, abused women. Lilia's pointed, challenging questions will linger even longer." - British Heritage Travel

"A graceful and empathetic portrayal of a suffragette in 1907 England." - PopMatters

"Harwood brings us vividly and convincingly into the past, as we see the whirlwind of social changes in early twentieth century England through the lives of two passionate and authentic characters." - Jessica Brockmole, internationally bestselling author of Letters from Skye

"Clarissa Harwood's historical novel Impossible Saints vividly portrays the difficulties--familial and societal, physical and emotional--faced a century ago by suffragettes in Great Britain who struggled to gain equal rights for women. It's a story beautifully told, both absorbing and illuminating." - Patricia Bracewell, author of Shadow on the Crown and The Price of Blood

"Impossible Saints is the meeting of ferocity and tenderness, a story with brave questions for both heart and head. It unfolds a hundred years in the past, but its roots are unmistakably - aptly - of the moment." - Alison Atlee, author of The Typewriter Girl

The information about Impossible Saints shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Clarissa Harwood

Clarissa Harwood holds a PhD in English Literature with a specialization in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. In addition to being a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. She lives in London, Ontario.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Butterfly Yellow
    Butterfly Yellow
    by Thanhha Lai, Daniel Suarez
    Voted 2019 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    As readers, many of us hope ...
  • Book Jacket: Olive, Again
    Olive, Again
    by Elizabeth Strout
    Voted 2019 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    It's been a big year for literary ...
  • Book Jacket: Solitary
    Solitary
    by Albert Woodfox
    Voted 2019 Best Debut Author Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    According to statistics from ...
  • Book Jacket: Becoming
    Becoming
    by Michelle Obama
    Voted 2019 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    BookBrowse hosted a Book Club ...

Book Club
Book Jacket
Evening in Paradise
by Lucia Berlin

"Berlin's new book is a marvel, filled with deeply touching stories about lives on the fringes."—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Ordinary Girls
    by Jaquira Díaz

    Reminiscent of Tara Westover's Educate and Roxane Gay's Hunger--a memoir that reads as electrically as a novel.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Butterfly Yellow

BUTTERFLY YELLOW

Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and the overall highest rated book of the year!

Enter

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.