The Bishop's Man Paperback – Deckle Edge, Aug 3 2010
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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.
“The Bishop’s Man centres on a sensitive topic — the sexual abuses perpetrated by Catholic priests on the innocent children in their care. Father Duncan, the first person narrator, has been his bishop's dutiful enforcer, employed to check the excesses of priests and, crucially, to suppress the evidence. But as events veer out of control, he is forced into painful self-knowledge as family, community and friendship are torn apart under the strain of suspicion, obsession and guilt. A brave novel, conceived and written with impressive delicacy and understanding.”
— Statement by Jury, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, 2009
"A novel with the ring of truth.... The Bishop's Man is perhaps as close as we will get to eavesdropping on the private conversations we were never meant to hear among clergy or between clergy and 'complainers.'"
— The Gazette
"Engrossing...a serious examination of the theme [the sexual abuse of children] with the page-turning energy of a thriller."
— The Globe and Mail
Praise for Linden MacIntyre:
“MacIntyre isn’t just another face and larynx from television [but] an honest-to-God writer…”
— Winnipeg Free Press
“MacIntyre is a fine writer.”
— Alistair MacLeod
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
The first person perspective probably has a lot to do with this, and was a good choice on MacIntyre's part. Father Duncan is a great character, a flawed character (but all great characters are) with a unique and comforting voice that guides us through the darkest parts of this tale of abuse, suicide, lost faith, and moral dilemmas. It can even be (gasp) funny at times.
I was pulled deep into the mystery of this story, and MacIntyre really works the mystery level, keeping the reader in the dark mostly about pivotal events in the book until the last fifty pages or so when things are finally revealed. This kind of secret keeping could have been a cheap trick to build suspense but MacIntyre managed it well for the most part, and kept me turning the pages for 4 hours straight one night in order to finish the thing.
The style is one of a time line that jumps around a bit, but is less confusing than it can be frustrating in its jaggedness.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
An excellent read. This book covers a delicate topic in an empathetic way. I loved the character development. You van feel their emotions so clearly.Published 6 months ago by Ruftara
I loved this story. You really felt the pain of the characters. It was one of those books that I couldn't put down. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Nancy
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 morePublished 23 months ago by Michael Bridger
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 morePublished on May 9 2014 by s.frances
Gave the right revue to the wrong book, oh well no one reads these anyway. Very good book, eye openingPublished on March 16 2014 by Edie Evans
This is cleverly and tastefully written. Mr. MacIntyre says what is to be said in clear concise but very interesting style.Published on May 17 2013 by oldgirl
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
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 morePublished on May 27 2012 by K. Yackimec
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 morePublished on Dec 21 2011 by Lydia - Novel Escapes