The Priest and the Lily

Sanjida O’Connell

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The Priest and the Lily

Coming soon…

…startlingly original…piercingly intelligent and very exciting…

You will journey far beyond the boundaries of your imagination. You will meet and seize your heart’s desire. It will be the death of your soul.

In 1865, Joseph, a young Jesuit priest and plant-hunter, sets out on a dangerous journey through Outer Mongolia, a land virtually unknown to the Western world. Charles Darwin’s radical theory of evolution has just been published, and Joseph is driven by his passion for science and his love of God. As he crosses the Mongolia Steppes with a Buddhist monk and a local horseman, he hears rumours of a rare and beautiful white lily. He believes that if he finds this flower, his fame and fortune will be assured. 

But then Joseph meets Namuunaa, a shaman and the chief of her tribe. 

And it is Namuunaa who will teach him the true meaning of his desire… 

An epic journey, a story of East meeting West, and of a love that transcends culture, faith and ultimately tragedy.

Advance Reviews on Amazon

Enchanting, engrossing, atmospheric

A compelling story…I read this as part of a Book Group, and not only did I enjoy the book but I also thought it one of the most interesting and well-written of those that we have read as a group

a thoroughly enjoyable, touching read that may get you to reflect on what lengths you would go to to achieve your goals

‘Her prose is stunning, lusciously descriptive and evocative of the wild beauty of the country.’

‘The most all-consuming and well-written book I have ever read.’

Reviews on GoodReads

5* ‘The story of two worlds colliding; worlds that ought to have been disparate.
Violences and harsh realities underscore the beauty of the narrative and the juxtaposition elicits the spiritual experience of the protagonist, providing him with much, much more than he went to Mongolia looking for, and causing him to shed aspects of himself he had considered unalienable.
Whilst the violent scenes are uncompromising, this reader sensed it was necessary for these to be depicted, not only for the narrative, but to appreciate that what is described only goes some way to explain the brutality of the Mongolian physical and historical landscape, and how it has remained an outpost to this day.
And the love story that is central to the book will leave you aching!’ Iznya

4*I was crying at the end of the book.’ Alyson

Here’s a clip of me chatting about my third novel, originally published as The Naked Name of Love, on Youtube

Questions about The Priest and the Lily for Book Clubs / Readers Groups:

How and why does Joseph stay true to his faith? Is it initially because of gratitude to the church who ‘saved’ him as a boy?

To what extent is Joseph trapped by his religion? To what extent are the nomads free in comparison?

What is Joseph able to learn from Mendo?

Although Mendo and Joseph talk about God and Buddhism, does either of them alter their view point?

How is Joseph able to reconcile his beliefs about God with his views on evolution?

To what extent does Joseph reconcile his beliefs about God with his views on love?

Joseph travels to Outer Mongolia to bring back flora and fauna. In particular, he hopes to find a rare white lily. What is acceptable to take from another country?

Why does Joseph really go back to Namuunaa’s tribe?

What does the novel tell you about love?

How much is Joseph changed by his ordeal?

Could Joseph have behaved differently?

What are the themes of the book?