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Faith: A Novelby Jennifer Haigh
Touching on one of today's hot-button topics, pedophilic priests, Faith is an exercise in rollercoaster emotions. This story explores the heart-rending situation of Father Art Breen, who finds himself accused of sexually abusing a young boy in his church. Set against the backdrop of multiple accusations in one city, the aura of hysteria is palpable. This is not, however, your typical drama-laden-movie-of-the-week in book form. I came to this book with certain expectations, yet it went in a completely different direction than I anticipated. Motivations and actions are not always what they seem, and there is much here that was unexpected. Haigh always seem to have some twist up her sleeve, indicating what a great storyteller she is. Her characters feel like real people, and her prose is absolutely beautiful. My bet is that you won't be able to put this one down.
Synopses & Reviews
When Sheila McGann sets out to redeem her disgraced brother, a once-beloved Catholic priest in suburban Boston, her quest will force her to confront cataclysmic truths about her fractured Irish-American family, her beliefs, and, ultimately, herself. Award-winning author Jennifer Haigh follows her critically acclaimed novels Mrs. Kimble and The Condition with a captivating, vividly rendered portrait of fraying family ties, and the trials of belief and devotion, in Faith.
"Haigh (Mrs. Kimble) explores the intersections of public scandal and personal tragedy in her superb fourth novel. Set in 2002 amid the sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the Catholic Church, and particularly the Boston archdiocese, Haigh's novel reaches far beneath the headlines to imagine the impact of allegations on one priest's family. Arthur Breen became a priest when such a career path was considered a logical, honorable choice for an intelligent young Catholic man. Sophisticated and worldly in many ways, utterly childlike in others, Arthur is unprepared to cope with secular life when he's accused of abusing a young boy and is subsequently asked to leave his parish. Arthur's younger half-sister, Sheila, in a quasi-omniscient style, narrates the complicated, devastating history that shaped Arthur's life, both personally and spiritually. Although this all-too-plausible story offers a damning commentary on the Church's flaws and its leaders' hubris, Haigh is concerned less with religious faith than with the faith Arthur's family has — and loses, and in some cases regains — in one another. At its broadest, this is a frank and timely story of familial and institutional heredity; at its most personal, the novel is a devastating portrait of a priest who discovers that he's also a man. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
"Luminous....The novel has the magnetic, page-turning quality of a detective thriller, but the clues here lead not to objective proof but to insight into a family both vividly specific and astonishingly universal....Wise." O magazine
"With an exquisite sense of drama and mystery, Haigh delivers a taut, well-crafted tale....Indelibly rendered characters, suspenseful pacing, and fearless but sensitive handling of a controversial subject will make this a must-read for book discussion groups." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Haigh's fourth novel draws you in....You'll be hypnotized until you know where it stops." Self
"Haigh deals with complex moral issues in subtle ways, and her narrative is beautifully, sometimes achingly poignant." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[Haigh is] an expertnatural storyteller with an acute sense of her characters' humanity." —NewYork Times
"We have the intriguing possibility that the nextgreat American author is already in print." —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
When Sheila McGann setsout to redeem her disgraced brother, a once-beloved Catholic priest in suburbanBoston, her quest will force her to confront cataclysmic truths about herfractured Irish-American family, her beliefs, and, ultimately, herself.Award-winning author Jennifer Haigh follows hercritically acclaimed novels Mrs. Kimbleand The Condition with a captivating,vividly rendered portrait of fraying family ties, and the trials of belief anddevotion, in Faith.
It is the spring of 2002 and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.
Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the center of the maelstrom, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him and his reputation. What she discovers is more complicated than she imagined. Her strict, lace-curtain-Irish mother is living in a state of angry denial. Sheila's younger brother Mike, to her horror, has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself.
As the scandal forces long-buried secrets to surface, Faith explores the corrosive consequences of one family's history of silence—and the resilience its members ultimately find in forgiveness. Throughout, Haigh demonstrates how the truth can shatter our deepest beliefs—and restore them. A gripping, suspenseful tale of one woman's quest for the truth, Faith is a haunting meditation on loyalty and family, doubt and belief. Elegantly crafted, sharply observed, this is Jennifer Haigh's most ambitious novel to date.
About the Author
Jennifer Haigh is the author of the New York Times bestseller Baker Towers, winner of the 2006 PEN/L. L. Winship Award for outstanding book by a New England author, and Mrs. Kimble, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and was a finalist for the Book Sense Book of the Year. Both novels were number one Book Sense picks. Her fiction has appeared in Granta, Ploughshares, Good Housekeeping, and elsewhere. She lives in the Boston area.
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