A perfectly good man

Ever since the silent retreats I have been really trying to read more.  Not holy books, you understand, although sometimes I do that. But fiction too which can have holy moments when you least expect them.

I’ve just finished reading A perfectly good man by Patrick Gale thanks to a dear retreatant who sent me an Amazon booktoken (best pressie ever, by the way!) I can’t remember who recommended it but it might have been the Church Times or some clergy friends. It was one of those books that you start reading in bed at night and then have to find time during the day to curl up and get a good chunk done in one go. You know what I mean.

For a while I thought I was going to struggle with it because it jumps back and forth in time, something with can irritate me. My little brain likes things in order and if I’m reading at night and often sleepy I probably don’t take it all in and get confused. And it doesn’t just go back and forth to two dates – it goes all over the place. However, in this case it works as the story unfolds in stages without unnecessary blurb to fill in the gaps. Set in Cornwall it tells the story of a vicar and his doubts, failures, triumphs and heart-aches. It begins with a man wanting to end his life and asking the vicar to witness it for him. Then for most of the rest of the book you’re left to wonder what that was all about because there is no mention of it again until near the end when you get to join up all the dots.

It is written with great insight, wonderful characterisation and I absolutely loved this book. If you are not churchy, it doesn’t matter – you’ll love it too. Made me want to seek out more by Patrick Gale. 5 stars.


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