Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Wounds of God - Penelope Wilcock

This book was received for free from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers in return for a review.

He saw the expression on Father Matthew’s face as Theodore stumbled over his broken sandal strap, shot out his hand to save himself, and dropped the jug he was carrying. It was smashing into tinkling fragments on the stone, in a puddle of warm fizzing beer that splashed my lady’s elegant gown and my lord’s embroidered shoes. There was a moment in which the universe stopped to allow for Brother Theodore’s mind to reel is dismay, Father Matthew’s expression to change from mere resentment to red-hot rage, and my lady to step back with a little, affected ‘Oh!’ of alarm.

Father Peregrine’s story continues in the second book of the Hawk and Dove series where he faces a variety of new challenges, filled with new and familiar characters that reveal the humanity and divinity present within the life of a monastery. This is interspliced with the story of a modern day family with each section relating to a parable within the Peregrine sections.

Wilcock has a soft way of writing, with diction that gives a warm, comfortable feel to the story. This, coupled with a variety of rounded characters that aren’t all likeable, creates a richness in each vignette. Thankfully this book can serve as a standalone, allowing readers to jump in at any point in the series. Thanks to Wilcock’s references to earlier events, it’s not necessary to have read the first book in the Hawk and Dove series to understand characters or setting.

One concern was the form. This book would have been better served if it had only focused on Father Peregrine. Every time the story switches back to present day, it loses tension being less interesting than the adventures of Peregrine. Currently they interrupt the narrative flow and pull the reader out of the story. The message of the vignettes are obvious enough that nothing would have been lost if these sections were eliminated.

Ultimately the best parts of the book are the scenes with Father Peregrine. While the world is populated with unique characters and personalities, it’s Peregrine that we identify with the most. He is the most interesting of all the monks with his struggle with his own body and how he interacts with the world and the people around him. Again and again he must use his sharp mind rather than a strong body to defend himself and navigate the world. If you’re interested in watching a man outsmart others on brainpower alone and spread compassion wherever he can, check out this book. 

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