Dazzled by the glories of Oxford after an austere wartime childhood, the undergraduates of the middle fifties were understandably troubled about the future. Would it always be necessarily evil to possess the Bomb? Would they have to face court martial rather than fight over Suez? If contraception was dreadfully sinful, why then didn't the Church condemn chewing gum?

Sad and funny by turns, Lapsing is a novel concerned with these questions, but it is also a beautifully written love story, and the story of Tessa and her painful growing up in the fifties, at Oxford, when she is confronted with the private dilemmas particular to that time, as well as to the more abstract questions.

Deeply preoccupied with rightness in theological argument, and with right conduct, and letting their own happiness go by default, Tessa's group of Catholic friends talk about everything and anything, except what was to turn out to be the greatest question facing them and the unworldly young priest who guides them: If you take religion totally seriously, how can you contend with love, in its strangely various and unexpected forms?

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