Publisher: HarperCollins (Harper)
Pub date:10 May 2011
Questions of faith intrigue me. I don’t follow any organized faith/religion, but arguments on either side of belief systems get my attention and interest.
Sheila McGann’s half brother, Catholic priest Arthur Breen is a disgraced priest. Accused of having molested a young boy, he has lost his position and peace of mind. Sheila is determined to find out the truth behind this accusation. But she first has to confront some uncomfortable truths about her family and deal with many questions of faith.
Lapsed Catholic Sheila is still close to her half-brother Arthur who is a priest. She stubbornly tries to find out what happened to clear her brother’s name at least for the sake of the family, especially their mother. When news of many such crimes broke it was a sensational affair with a lot of media attention, and criticism of how the church was handling it. But Faith is more about this family and how they deal with the tragedy.
The story also explores the many meanings of the word faith and how each of characters deal with their own faith or lack of it.
Sheila has broken with organized religion but has faith in her brother.
Their mother seems to have a sort of convenient belief in religion and has absolutely no doubt about her son’s innocence
Arthur’s half brother Mike seems to have no faith in his brother. Thinking as a parent, he is quick to convict him. Mike’s wife questions the whole Catholic church and wants to have nothing to do with it.
There is an element of suspense throughout the novel and the reader is left wondering – Did he? Didn’t he? And if he didn’t, why do we feel that hint of guilt about him? Perhaps Arthur suddenly realizes after so many years as a priest that he is also a man – his emotional attachment to the child Aidan (whom he is accused of molesting) is strong and for him, that is rather scary.
This is an interesting perspective to this well-known scandal brought to us by an admittedly unreliable narrator. More than the scandal, this story deals with how it affects a man and his family.
The story is well-written and the suspense kept me hooked.There were many things that I kept wondering about. Like the young age at which boys enter priesthood. They give up normal life even before they know what life is. The sacrifices they make are many and the strength of mind and control that is needed is very high. Through the reading of the story we are reminded that priests are also human with very human frailties and wants. And Arthur has to deal with his frailties and demons.
But for me the entire story stayed rather in the abstract. I do think it will appeal a lot more to people whose belief system lies in organized religion – they might feel closer to the people and understand the feelings of doubt that surface and the strength that faith brings them. But that said, Faith is a compelling read.
Definitely recommended. There is a lot to discuss in this story and book clubs will find this is a great pick.
Find out more about the author from Jennifer Haigh’s website.
Jennifer Haigh’s Faith is on a book tour May and June. See other blog stops on this book tour for more views on the book.
Thanks to Harper for the review copy. And thanks to TLC Tours for letting me participate in this book tour!
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