Tag Archives: The Betrothed


Due to a number of personal difficulties, there were only three of us at the October meeting. This is quite unusual for our group; I can’t think of a time when such a thing has happened before. Nevertheless, those of us attending went to work and had a good time discussing The Betrothed.

We each responded to the question, “Who did you find to be the most interesting character?” Some chose The Unknown, some the noblewoman to whom Lucia is sent in the convent at Monza. We also talked about the historical figure Federigo Borromeo, how the actions of Pope Francis resemble what is told in the book of the doings of Borromeo, and wondered if Pope Francis had modelled himself in part after Borromeo, considering that the book is such a favourite of his, and that he has read it several times. Also, we considered the condition of the Church at that time in connection with what we had learned from our study of Owen Chadwick’s The Reformation.

A question arose as to the use of the appearance of the plague in the story–was it organic to the story, or did it tend to diffuse the plot? Generally, people felt that it fulfilled its place in the story, making it harder for Renzo and Lucia to come together, and also it contributed to the feeling of the hopelessness of the situation of the lovers.

We went on to discuss Lucia’s vow, and her dispensation from it by Brother Cristoforo. It was pointed out that the vow, under the conditions in which she made it, was like trying to bargain with God for her personal safety rather than trusting in His providence. Father pointed out that there is no scriptural basis for taking such a vow, no teaching of the Church that would lead one to do this. Therefore, her being dispensed from the vow made good sense.

After talking about a few of the other characters, the question was raised: was this book worth reading? It was agreed that it definitely had been worth the read.

For our November meeting, we will discuss Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’. We look forward to having Father L. lead us in our discussion.


Back to the Blog: We’re Still Here

Because of various health issues and the lethargy that can follow, this blog has gone untouched for far too long. But now we’re back, and I’ll start by reporting on the meeting of September 14, 2015.

We had decided to give ourselves two months to read Manzoni’s The Betrothed, and this was our first month to begin discussion. It was a little confusing, since we had members who had finished, or nearly finished, the book, and some who had just read to the halfway point. One complaint was that the author had allowed himself to be sidelined very often and had strayed from the plot. Another concerned the lack of development of characters. We talked for a while about how we should evaluate these difficulties, since the first copyright for the book was in 1827: should we assume that the novel form was just developing at that time? A metaphor for a way of viewing the book was suggested: look at it as if it were an Italian opera! No need for development  or complicated plot twists, just good old boy gets girl with a lot of flourishes and drama thrown in. We agreed that it was quite helpful to consider the book from that framework, and then went on to talk about the various instances of piety and religious devotion we had noticed, trying not to stray into the second half of the book.

We also  addressed the need for a new name for our club, since with the transfer of Father Lawrence we are no longer associated with the parish of St. Jude. Our official name is now Catholic Readers Guild!

Because the Thanksgiving holiday comes on the same day as our usual meeting, we are moving the October gathering to the fifteenth of the month, when we will finish the discussion of The Betrothed.

For November, we will read Laudato Si’, the recent encyclical of Pope Francis. In December we will once again stage a reading of a Dorothy Sayers radio play.

Thanks for visiting!