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A WONDERFUL, AFFIRMING (at least, for me) NOVEL
on April 9, 2002
I read with interest -- and a chuckle -- the complaints of some reviewers about the 'humor' in this novel. I found humor in abundance within its pages -- not the 'belly-laugh' sort of humor that we Americans have come to expect from TV sitcoms and films, but the 'wry smile' sort of humor that is more touching and subtle. Cosse's writing is both humorous and meaningful -- but there is a lot more to this little book than humor.
Interestingly enough, the book I read just prior to picking up this novel was Simon Mawer's THE GOSPEL OF JUDAS, in which a priest deals with the discovery of an ancient scroll that has the potential to destroy his church, the message within being one that repudiates all that Christianity has stood upon for nearly two thousand years. In A CORNER OF THE VEIL, the opposite occurs -- a manuscript is received by the Casuist order in France that proves, after hundreds of years and innumerable attempts by philosophers and thinkers, the irruftable existence of God.
It would seem that the church would look upon such a find as a victory of sorts -- everything they have been espousing over their history has been verified on paper, in terms that anyone can understand. And while it is true that those who read the proof -- spiritual and secular people alike -- are touched by it on the deepest possible level and reduced to tears of joy, the proof brings sheer terror and panic to the hierarchy of the church and state. Grim predictions are made that, if the proof is made public, it will mean the end of society as we know it, chaos, the end of the world.
The struggles and machinations the proof sets into motion are both humorous and thought-provoking. Without giving away any more of the story, I will simply say that I felt the message to be one, not of revelation, but of affirmation. The novel is not anti-religious in any form or fashion that I can see -- nor is it indoctrinarial in the least. I found it to be intelligently conceived and written, a very compelling and moving work -- one which I can recommend heartily.