A priest, Jewish convert, and practicing psychiatrist, Peter Albright is called to make final vows in the Jesuit Order. What happens when he learns his grandfather, murdered at Auschwitz, has left him a fortune in an anonymous, unnumbered Swiss account is the heart of this timely novel. Should Peter pursue his fortune and how? His major clues are the odors of scented stationery. His major complication is the perfume expert, a beautiful woman offering help, then falling in love. Religious commitment and the lure of millions, romantic love and the call to priesthood all play out against the terrible odds of dead ancestors and the Holocaust remembered. The reader is drawn to these conflicts as though to fireworks where explosions displace one another, each more dazzling than the last. How Peter decides makes THE ODOR OF SANCTITY not only a suspenseful page-turner but a study in heroism.
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- “I just finished your wonderful book, THE ODOR OF SANCTITY. It was a great read. You write in such a delightful way that I feel I myself am sitting next to your main character, Peter, in all his encounters. The book had the elements I love in a novel: mystery, intrigue, a bit of adventure, and even a love story. I look forward to reading your other novels.”
- This is an elegant, beautifully paced story of Peter Albright, a priest of Jewish origins, who is faced with a dilemma. Shortly before his Jesuit final vows, he receives notice of an unexpected inheritance from his grandfather who died in Auschwitz. Before he can discover what has been left to him, he has to unravel the hidden code of his grandfather’s bank account number in Switzerland. It is a problem that takes him to Europe where he meets a beautiful woman who can help him solve the mystery. Peter is attracted to her, and being the last of his family, must decide if he should continue along his chosen path and fully enter the Jesuit Order, or follow his father’s wishes: marry, have children, and continue the family line. The pull of two conflicting desires is the heart of the story. Which choice will prove the stronger and how Peter struggles with himself keeps the reader guessing till the end. A delightful read.
- I cannot but send a brief acknowledgement of your gracious email and the pdf of The Odor of Sanctity. Some years ago now I had read this novel, as well as Chartreuse and Portrait of a Woman. What I do remember is enjoying all three books enormously, both for their page-turning plots and their deeper spiritual probings. I have always been fascinated by the ability of some authors to convey the perennial wisdom of humankind, and the specific wisdom within various religious traditions, through the exercise of imagination. You are one of those.
"You must be ready to go anywhere in the world," he recalled his Master of Novices saying, "and to do it at the drop of a hat. That's Jesuit. The monastic hallmark is stability. Ours is mobility bound by obedience."
"And for what?" Peter heard his father ask. It was the crucial question posed in Paul's aggressive manner as if he were at his podium. Peter and the elder Albright sat at a table opposite each other on the occasion of the anniversary of his mother's death. The dinner that he arranged at the Ritz and to which he invited his father's colleagues had turned into a confrontation.
"Your mother and I made prodigious sacrifices. We pinned our hopes on you. You were the heir apparent of the family. What a blunder to let you accept that Georgetown scholarship and fall under Jesuit influence. Your baptism, entering the Order, and ordination were all rebellious acts. What I did to deserve these courtesies I'll never know. Your injustice to me I can dismiss. But what you owe your ancestors is a debt to be paid."
"What is that?" Peter asked, his voice straining to be civil.
"To procreate. To leave behind survivors. Not books or articles or world renown but progeny. A son or daughter. Someone alive in whom you're totally invested. All I see is a life void of passion. If you stopped for an instant and thought how you might honor your memory, you'd leave the Jesuits and recover your Jewish roots. You're at the height of your powers. It's not too late to change. You can have a normal life. "