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Pastoral

André Alexis's novel follows a priest who accidentally becomes embroiled in the love affairs of two of his parishioners.

André Alexis

There were plans for an official welcome. It was to take place the following Sunday. But those who came to the rectory on Father Pennant's second day were the ones who could not resist seeing him sooner. Here was the man to whom they would confess the darkest things. It was important to feel him out. Mrs. Young, for instance, after she had watched him eat a piece of her macaroni pie, quietly asked what he thought of adultery.

Father Christopher Pennant is sent to the sleepy town of Barrow. With more sheep than people, it is sleepily bucolic — too much Barrow Brew on Barrow Day is the rowdiest it gets. But things aren't so idyllic for Liz Denny, whose fiancé doesn't want to choose between Liz and his more worldly lover Jane, or for Father Pennant himself, whose faith is profoundly shaken by the miracles he witnesses — a mayor walking on water, intelligent gypsy moths and a talking sheep. (From Coach House Books)

From the book

Christopher Pennant had passed through a crisis of faith. His time at seminary had not been enough to free him entirely from doubt, but it had given him the strength to go on, and when he'd taken holy orders he had been both proud and relieved.

While waiting for a parish of his own, he assisted Father Scarduto at St. Matthew's, in Ottawa. This suited Christopher perfectly. He was himself from Ottawa, so some of the strangeness (and pleasure) of being called 'Father Pennant' was offset by the familiarity of his surroundings. Whenever he allowed himself to think about where he might like to go — that is, where he might like his first parish to be — he imagined he'd be happiest in a small city of some sort: Cambridge, say, or Peterborough. So, he was dismayed when he was told he'd be going to a place in Lambton County called Barrow.


From Pastoral by Andre Alexis ©2014. Published by Coach House Books.

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