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Act of Contrition focuses on the intimate relationship between Regina, a widow, and Michael, a young doctor whose wife left him for another man. Having found happiness in one another, they desire nothing more than to be together. Yet in the eyes of the Catholic Church, Michael is not free to divorce his wife and marry Regina. In an emotional climax Regina must decide if she loves Michael enough to give him up or if she’ll force him to choose between her and God.

By modern standards, Giles’s love scenes are tasteful, and the general atmosphere of ecumenism within today’s Catholic Church renders moot many of the tensions in the novel. Yet in 1957 Giles’s agent and publisher feared the work would cause "irreparable harm" to her reputation. As late as 1972 Giles was revising in the hopes of seeing the novel published. Finally her wish is fulfilled.

Janice Holt Giles (1905-1979), author of nineteen books, lived and wrote near Knifley, Kentucky, for thirty-four years. Her biography is Janice Holt Giles: A Writer's Life.

"Fans of Janice Holt Giles will welcome her resurrection in this moving romance."—Journal of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society

"For fans of Janice Holt Giles’s work, her new novel Act of Contrition will be a pleasant surprise."—Kentucky Living

"A fascinating study in how the evolution of social history acts as a counterpoint to the constancy of human nature."—Lexington Herald-Leader

"Important for many reasons, not the least of which is the way it broadens our view of Giles's immense gifts."—Appalachian Heritage

"At last! A love story written by Janice Holt Giles in 1957 and hidden away in archives since her death in 1979 is finally in print. Giles declared Act of Contrition one of the best books she had ever written."—Dianne Watkins Stuart

"A truly timeless tale that transcends generations."—Knoxville News-Sentinel

"A truly timeless tale that transcends generations as well as outlasting the obstacles they placed."—Louisville Courier-Journal

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Kentucky authors, Kentucky writers, Catholicism, Catholics in fiction


Literature in English, North America


Paperback edition

Foreword by Wade Hall

Act of Contrition
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