Book of the Month: October 2014

acts and omissions final coverActs and Omissions by Catherine Fox

I knew I was going to enjoy this book when I looked at the Dramatis personae and saw that it was divided between Bishops, Priests & Deacons and People! But the clergy are very much real people too and we follow them all through a year, in which the chronological and liturgical form the background to the changing scenes of lives turned upside down, not just by the beautiful Freddy – willfully self-destructive and seemingly unaware of his capacity to destroy others – but also by “events, dear boy, events.”

Catherine Fox has a gift for capturing the essence of a personality in just a few words and for drawing the reader, not just into the story but into the hearts, minds and souls of her characters. Her asides are witty (noting how often giving up alcohol is balanced by taking up grumpiness); instructive (microwaving last year’s palm crosses makes it easier to prepare the ash for Ash Wednesday, apparently); thought provoking (as the number of foodbanks increase, how often will we see our Lord hungry and do nothing?) and at times infinitely wise and tender about human frailty.

Quite apart from being an excellent story teller, Catherine Fox clearly knows and loves the Church of England, from its cathedral spires to its parish holiday clubs: though that doesn’t prevent her being clear sighted about its idiosyncrasies and even its failings. I’m sure most readers will find themselves recognizing their clergy, fellow parishioners and even, perhaps, themselves.

I’d guess that most people will read this book three times: once for the joy of the story telling; once for the fun of identifying the quotations from hymns, psalms and poems which are threaded through the text and once as the person currently reading it regales them with “I must just read you this …”

I loved it – and I can’t wait for June 2015 to find out what happens next.

Reviewed by the Revd. Norma Fergusson

Special price of £8.99 in the shop (posted out for free) or £6.99 + postage online from www.sarumcollegebookshop.co.uk between 1st and 31st October 2014. RRP £9.99.

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