Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Bishop's Man by Linden Macintyre- A Book Review

       A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to reading a book I have intended to read since it was published and won the Giller Prize in 2009, The Bishop's Man by Linden Macintyre.

Brief synopsis:
Too see the full synopsis click here

The year is 1993 and Father Duncan MacAskill stands at a small Cape Breton fishing harbour a few miles from where he grew up. Enjoying the timeless sight of a father and son piloting a boat, Duncan takes a moment’s rest from his worries. But he does not yet know that his already strained faith is about to be tested by his interactions with a troubled boy, 18-year-old Danny MacKay.

Known to fellow priests as the “Exorcist” because of his special role as clean-up man for the Bishop of Antigonish, Duncan has a talent for coolly reassigning deviant priests while ensuring minimal fuss from victims and their families. It has been a lonely vocation, but Duncan is generally satisfied that his work is a necessary defense of the church. All this changes when lawyers and a policeman snoop too close for the bishop’s comfort. Duncan is assigned a parish in the remote Cape Breton community of Creignish and told to wait it out.... 

My Thoughts

      As a literary work Macintyre's The Bishop's Man, is simply the best written novel I have read in ages. It stands far above most popular fiction in the simple yet strongly delivered and beautifully written prose. The story is captivating, almost following the format of a mystery novel with its frequent allusions to MacAskill's past. The plot's subtle yet intricate twists and turns kept me captivated from start to finish. Not only was the prose and plot of the story well composed, but the material it dealt with was also intriguing considering its basis in the factual sex scandals of the Canadian Church which were grasped onto especially vehemently by the media around the time of the book's publication. The book is most certainly worth the read and I highly encourage you to read it as a remarkable piece of Canadian literature.

Words on the Fiction in Relation to Reality

      I remember sitting in church (a thing I did a lot when I was younger) listening to a sermon about The Bishop's Man encouraging parishioners not to judge the whole Catholic priesthood based on the book. While I think it is a fair point that the priest made that day, stereotypes and assumptions rarely turn out to be good things or help anyone, I think the Canadian Church messed up in not taking action against those priests who did wrong others especially given the opening Macintyre's book made for such an act of repentance.

     Since the publication of the book the various sex scandals that the Canadian church was involved in have once again died down in the media. Whether this matches a decrease in scandals or simply indicates that the Church has figured out an even better way to make everything stay "hush hush" remains to be seen but in the end "innocent until proven guilty" most certainly holds true.


  1. I read the book when it came out and agree 100% - incredibly well written novel, thought provoking, and sad that there is the necessity of a "cleaner". Mr. MacIntyre deserves all the acclaim the book inspired. He took on a tough subject for a novel.

    1. He truly did take on a tough subject, his work makes me proud to be Canadian


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