My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was provided with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The tale revolves around Father Theodore Riley, whose mission it is to become a priest, according to the wishes of his mother. Set in the post-Korean war time frame, the tale takes us through Riley's journey as he returns from the war to find ruined remnants of all that he had left behind, when going away - his beloved, his sister, his birth town have all been ravaged in different manners and to different degrees. As he finds solace in the mystic veil of alcohol, the story also takes us through how he goes about setting to become a priest and his internal transformation therein.
This is a very deep book, dealing with existential idealogies and raises questions on motives and intentions. It's hard to categorise this book into a particular genre, as it has threads of romance, war, crime, drama and spiritual existence, all beaded with traces of melancholy. The book has a dark and stormy undertone, which seems to go with the effect that the author aimed for. I loved Riley's characterisation - especially in the places where regrets having lost Andrea, the remorse that fills him on not having heard her out, the emptiness that fills him when he achieves his mission but is left with nobody to share it with, the helplessness that overwhelms him at the sight of his war-torn town and the anguish he feels at the pain of his sister, are all beautifully portrayed. The narration is exceptionally brilliant - the author has a knack for conveying a point without actually directly writing it down, making the reader believe that they somehow thought it up! The pace of the book feels a bit on the heavier side at times, but for a novel of this stature, a faster pace wouldn't have done justice to the scenes and the thoughts being spoken about.
This is a wonderful piece of literary fiction, and I highly recommend it to lovers of existential philosophy and drama.
My rating for this book: 4.5 stars
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