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The Bishop's Man [Paperback]

Linden Macintyre
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.32 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Oct. 11 2011
Father Duncan MacAskill has spent most of his priesthood as the 'Exorcist' - an enforcer employed by his bishop to discipline wayward clergy and suppress potential scandal. Hidden in a small rural parish to avoid an impending public controversy, Duncan must now confront the consequences of his past. Pushed to the breaking point by loneliness, tragedy and sudden self-knowledge, Duncan discovers how hidden obsessions and guilty secrets either find their way to the light of understanding, or poison any chance we have for love and spiritual peace. Winner of the 2009 Giller Prize, Canada's Premier Literary Prize.

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The Bishop's Man + Long Stretch + Why Men Lie
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Product Description

Quill & Quire

Father Duncan MacAskill is called The Exorcist. Not in the traditional sense, however: at his bishop’s bidding, he drives out devils of a different sort – priests who molest children. He does not banish the devils to hell, nor to the police, but to discreet clinics or simply to far-off parishes to commence their sins anew. MacAskill’s loathsome bishop has a heart of ice. He refuses to see abused children as victims. They are merely troublesome complainers who need to be silenced. The Exorcist is more sympathetic, but still he obeys the bishop. Despite his own celibacy and sobriety issues, MacAskill is the closest thing to a hero in Linden MacIntyre’s riveting new novel, The Bishop’s Man, a searing indictment of the Catholic church. MacAskill is sent to a rural parish in his native Cape Breton, which is also the author’s native land. There, while wrestling with his own demons, MacAskill encounters a troubled young man who appears to be the victim of a notorious priest. MacAskill is determined to help this man, regardless of the consequences for the church. His subsequent investigation takes him on a sordid and surprising path. Despite being a work of fiction, The Bishop’s Man has the ring of truth. Indeed, MacIntyre writes with great authority. The past few decades have seen a stream of stories about church sex abuse scandals in Canada, the U.S., and Ireland. We feel we know this issue, yet we learn so much more from MacIntyre’s very credible, complex characters. This novel is not perfect. At times, the plot is convoluted and the back-and-forth chronology gets rather tiresome. Generally, however, it is a well-crafted, brave, and painful examination of one of the most monstrous issues of our time. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Extraordinary... Above all, it's a page-turner which renders existential questions about personal responsibility into fodder fit for a thriller" Observer "Impressive in the breadth of its concerns ... what is striking about The Bishop's Man is the way the author achieves a necessary balance, keeping a judicious distance between himself and his tale of institutional corruption and its dire effect. Both dispassion and compassion inform his narrative" Times Literary Supplement "The character of MacAskill, whose theological musings are worthy of Graham Greene, is rich and complex. The remote and decaying fishing village, with its cast of lost and lonely souls, also rings with conviction" Daily Mail "Powerful... An overwhelming sense of secrecy pervades every exchange, every turn and twist of the story" Belfast Telegraph "Very readable, with a hint of Graham Greene" -- William Leith Scotsman

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality viewed through fiction--The Bishop's Man Nov. 10 2009
Format:Hardcover
The Bishop's Man is a wonderful book. It explores the many facets which contributed to and resulted from the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, through the story of a priest in Cape Breton.
The book follows Father Duncan McAskill on his journey from a difficult childhood through a career as a priest. He has been used by his bishop to help in supppressing scandals by being the messenger who has notified priests that they are to be moved. As he struggles with the realities of a Church hierarchy in denial, the loneliness and isolation of priests in small communities and the heartbreaking sense of betrayal and confusion in the faithful laity, he comes to a personal crisis in his own vocation. The characters are wonderfully drawn,and realistic. The book reads like a thriller and once I started it, I did not want to put it down.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
As soon as you read the sypnosis, you might groan in anticipation of some sordid journey into the loathsome depths of some scumbag religion's dark and dirty cellar. But you would be wrong. This is a book that tries, at least, to be fair about the Catholic church's overall legacy and function, realistically portraying the challenges that come up.

The protagonist is a clean-up man, designated by his bishop to sweep scandal under the rug. MacIntyre does a superb job of taking us inside the mind of this man, showing how his life of suppressing the human dignity of his victim in order to preserve the aura of institutional integrity has slowly drained him. At the same, as an intelligent, emotional being, he realizes this and is beginning to comprehend just how much of an impact his role in life is having. The book is about him slowly groping towards redemption.

The Globe and Mail reviewer put it well I think, when he/she said this book ultimately contains more contrition than redemption.

Also, in spite of the dark subject matter, this book uses suspense ably to compel the reader to turn the pages. So this is a literary book that actually has the potential to appeal to a fairly wide audience. About time, I'd say.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Man's Journey Sept. 17 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Linden MacIntyre, an award winning author and journalist, has written a novel about a Cape Breton priest, Father Duncan MacAskill, and his life and work in a rural parish on the blessed island. The underlying tension comes from his reputation as the "Bishop's Man" who helps the church avoid scandal by moving troublesome clerics around, away, for treatment etc. But there is much more to this novel which is about a man struggling with himself, his calling, his hopes, memories and dreams. Clergy will recognize many of their own strains and stresses in this story. Lay people will find their own ministries challenged and confirmed. There are wonderful descriptions of the Cape Breton landscape and moods especially for those who live near the ocean. In spite of its dark themes, I ended reading this with a sense of hope and faith in the possibilities of redemption.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Jan. 9 2010
Format:Hardcover
This is a story of redemption and contrition rather than an expose of the predatory, paedophilic practices of the Catholic Church. It is different and well done in this respect.

The big 'however' from me is that the timelines are not always very clear and requires too much work from the reader as the writer is sometimes all over the place chronologically.

Many times, whilst reading, I had a sense of mild irritation at this contrivance. Two story-lines I can abide but once it's 3 or 4 the reading pleasure disappears for me.

That said, the writer is talented and has some wondrous turns of phrase and I felt the pain of the abusees. I also like the insider political machinations of the RC church which leaves God very much on the outside looking in. A study in hypocrisy.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in a long time. Nov. 9 2009
Format:Hardcover
I enjoyed this book immensely. As a Catholic, I was somewhat shocked and certainly disturbed to read about the commonplace nature of the demons that haunt priests. The book drives home the fact that they are men - human beings - and with that, have all the frailties and weaknesses that each of us have. But mostly, I found this a truly fascinating glimpse into the private lives of priests, especially the lonliness and isolation that plague so many of them. By definition, their lives are on the ouside of the bustling family business they oversee in their parishes.

I was drawn to this book and couldn't wait to finish it. When I did, I missed the main characted and still think about him, and the book, often. I highly recommend The Bishop's Man.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing May 4 2010
By Sam TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre is written in first person, and revolves around a priest named Duncan MacAskill. I was surprised that there was so little discussed about religion considering that it was in the viewpoint of a priest. I neither liked nor disliked the protagonist, which is exactly what I felt about this book. There were many different scenes that started off with people talking, and I would have to guess who they were. A lot of the scenes, I found, were pointless. There were flashbacks to a time when MacAskill had visited the Honduras, to his attempt at a teenage relationship, and of his abusive father. These flashbacks and the problems the protagonist faced made him more human.

Overall, there isn't as much excitement as I was led to believe. Everything is very subtle, everything happens slowly. I was just reading without being amused or fascinated, and for that, I kept getting lost in the words and forgetting what I had just read and then having to reread those sections. Perhaps if I were a Catholic, I would've enjoyed this book more. I don't know.

The priest, Duncan MacAskill, is seen running errands for the Bishop to prevent bad news related to priests from becoming public information. MacAskill meets with those that have been sexually abused by a priest to help cover up the information, reassuring them that something will be done to the abuser, the priest. `Victim' is a word that the Bishop refuses to use because victims are only creations of an over-active imagination. It is the Bishop who says that he wants priests to keep their "noses out of public matters." So that the public will "keep their noses out of ours.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The title is a giveaway...but that's just the start.
This book will stand the test of time as a great Canadian novel. The underlying themes of faith and taboo are handled with sophistication and on occasion with humour. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Michael Bridger
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow to start....
I choose the 4 star rating because I found the book very slow to begin with...I almost didn't stick with it, but was glad I did. Read more
Published 3 months ago by s.frances
5.0 out of 5 stars Oops
Gave the right revue to the wrong book, oh well no one reads these anyway. Very good book, eye opening
Published 5 months ago by Edie Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bishops Man
This is cleverly and tastefully written. Mr. MacIntyre says what is to be said in clear concise but very interesting style.
Published 15 months ago by oldgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Captivating
Book 2 in the Cape Breton trilogy

Synopsis is mainly taken from Wikipedia and expended with my own thoughts

The story follows the life of a Catholic priest... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Toni Osborne
1.0 out of 5 stars Cryptic crap
Everytime I periodically decide to gamble on reading "Prize Winning Canadian Literature" I am totally puzzled as to what planet these people (the writers, the prize panels and the... Read more
Published on May 27 2012 by K. Yackimec
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Read
The Bishop's Man is a shocking and disturbing read of one of the most despicable acts in the Catholic Church's history and although it seems like a heavy read, it wasn't as... Read more
Published on Dec 21 2011 by Lydia - Novel Escapes
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book
Reading the words of Linden MacIntyre I was struck by the memories I had of Cape Breton story tellers. His story flowed. It was a book that I had dificulty putting down. Read more
Published on April 1 2011 by Mj Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars A quiet masterpiece
This novel won the Canadian Giller prize and at the time it was considered a surprise. I didn't expect to like this novel, but I did, very much. I became totally engrossed in it. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2011 by Sandra Gulland
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and full of nuance
To read The Bishop's Man, by Linden MacIntyre, is to come to an understanding about nuance, patience and the sometimes ambiguity of knowledge. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2011 by Lorina Stephens
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