“With The Saint Nicholas Society, author Benjamin Bongers weaves two engaging narratives into one enlightening yarn. Finding inspiration in Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bongers’ empathetic yet alienated people find the spirit of giving as they rise above the struggles of everyday existence as well as accepting the inevitability of mortality. This narrative delightfully explores the origins of St. Nicholas; starting as a humble son of a fisherman, young Nikki grows from rambunctious youth into a pillar of selfless giving and an icon for Faith; he becomes—first resisting the responsibility—Nicholas, Epískopos to a growing flock, in a landscape where such faith could be perilous. Likewise, he is the symbol for Bongers’ modern day ‘players’ striving to make their lives and world a far better place. So, curl up in a comfortable chair, with a cup of coffee by your side; bond over, say, a nice Chinese Custard bun and enjoy an epic ride into ‘offering and acceptance,’ a pleasant glide into spirituality. In homage to the Marx Brothers, Saint Nicholas might be a ‘sanity clause’ after all.” Les Epstein, Author, Sleep Cinematic: A Golem’s Quartet, Kip Divided
“The Saint Nicholas Society is a brilliant and beautiful testimony to true Christianity as told through two very moving storylines. It shows that every person is a loving light to his brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Amen, it is never too late to strike that spark of holiness, and through humility, be a living witness to our Lord. I can’t think of a better way to show who and what a real Christian is.” —Timothy Jeffries, KM, Chancellor, Order of Malta Western Association USA
“A story about the enduring power of one’s belief in God to change lives for the better, The Saint Nicholas Society has a heart as big as its author’s; it is a book that will restore your faith in humanity’s basic goodness.” —Heidi L. Waterman, author
“The Saint Nicholas Society is a touching and charming novel. In its pages, I was reminded once again that The Divine is revealed throughout history in ways that are deeply personal and fresh. May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened to see Divine Presence everywhere we turn.” —Rev. Brian David Morse, MDiv, BCC, MS. Director of Chaplain Services for University Health Lakewood Medical Center
“I loved reading The St. Nicholas Society! This book is exceptional! It weaves a historically accurate story with the storyline of a current day common person. The characters are incredibly engaging. The story draws you in and makes you turn the page! As a catechist I have been able to use the thoroughly researched text in my classes. The book is a wonderful way to teach faith, hope, and community.” — Mary Orth, Educator and Catechist, All Saints Academy, St. Cloud MN
“Imagine Jan Karon’s Mitford series characters have slightly grittier neighbors from the city. Despair turning to hope, a sense of community, action and adventure – it’s all there. Alternate that story with a thrilling historical tale worthy of a spin-off from The Chosen. Ben Bongers has done his research! Balancing history with accessible characterization, I’ll never think of “Santa” in the same way again. Taken together, the two stories inspire us to find the spirit of St. Nick in ourselves. This is a perfect addition for any book club looking for something of substance to discuss. And with its vivid imagery, I’d love to see it become a movie, or, better yet, a mini-series!” —Linda Ade Brand, Stage Director
“Mr Bongers has crafted a remarkable combination of snapshots of contemporary San Francisco with historical fiction of the early Christian church that has much to say to readers everywhere. He creates a bevy of memorable characters that will live on in your imagination. He describes a witty, likable Nicholas of Myra that embraces his legend without over-sentimentalizing his life, and in so doing confects a remarkable evocation of the early church caught between coexistence with pagans and persecution by imperial Rome. Bongers cleverly juxtaposes Nicholas’s adventures with the very relatable problems encountered by Fred and his companion Catholics. Inspired by the architecture and atmosphere of the very real San Francisco parish of St Dominic’s, Mr Bongers brings us into conversation with the ways we might take the saints out of the icons and put them into the center of our lives and actions.” —Timothy Pursell, holds a PhD in Modern History from Indiana University. He has taught courses on Jewish civilization and early Christianity.
Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2022
A very good read. It was long but I still wanted even more. I was sad when it ended. Very well-written and good stories that really hit you in your gut and in your heart. I am going to be looking for more from this author.
Reviewed in the United States on May 8, 2022
Lily Andrews REVIEWER of Reader Views (06/2022)
A remarkable story of devotion
I genuinely cared about the characters. They captivated me immediately. This novel reminds the reader that our gritty day to day world intersects intimately with the spiritual realm. We are not alone.
In this newest offering by Benjamin Bongers, a man loses it all, only to gain much more through faith, hope, and his acts of selflessness.
"The Saint Nicholas Society" is a powerful and inspiring story that weaves two narratives into one fine embroidery. Fred was used to having all the good things that life has to offer, but when he loses it all and is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Fred has little hope for the future. A television news broadcast changes his mindset and fills him with the urge to make the world a better place. With a group of eccentric characters viewed by society as misfits, Fred's life is juxtaposed with that of Saint Nicholas of Myra, an early Christian bishop of Greek descent. With the two narratives playing hand in hand, the result is a powerful tapestry that will stir your heart.
Benjamin Bongers is a deft storyteller. He skillfully blends contemporary San Franciscan life with medieval Rome with apex ability. With accurate historical events, he articulately writes about St Nicholas, his childhood, adventures, travels, acts of charity, and his Christian life. Fred's life, on the other hand, is a story told with pitch-perfect clarity as it gives a glimpse of societal problems that are relatable in modern times. Taken together, "The St Nicholas Society" is a text that opens readers to the true meaning of the Christian faith and that human sympathy is the flower of practical life.
The feather in the cap of this book is the character development and the author's brilliant historical research. The characters are memorable and well fleshed out despite the book's many pages. The research is well done, and the author leaves no stone unturned while describing Nicholas' altruistic lifestyle. This book deserves 5 stars as its storyline is original, fresh, and well written.
Among the values of the Christian faith is the selfless concern for the well-being of others. The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. Benjamin Bongers delivers a story that encourages us to emulate the characters in this story. Indeed, "The Saint Nicholas Society" is bound to leave a mark in a reader's heart and the literary world as well.