This is the first of what is known as The Quincunx Cycle – 5 books by the Canadian author, Andres Alexis . I read The Hidden Keys a couple months ago and was delighted with it. But then I discovered that was the 4th book (3rd published) in the group so I backtracked for number one. (This is NOT a series – the books are not related by characters or plot. They seem to be only very loosely connected by theme but even that is vague. The connections are supposed to come in Book 3, Th Ring, which will be published some time in 2020.
by Andre Alexis
2014 / 164 pages
read by André Alexis
rating – 9 / “religious” fiction
Father Christopher Pennant, a young priest, has been newly assigned to a small parish in the rural southern Ontario town of Barrow. The town is small and gossipy but the residents take a liking to the thoughtful and non-judgmental Father Pennant.
The narrative changes thread and we meet Elizabeth Denny who Is engaged to Robbie Meyers, but Robbie is apparently having an affair with, and ini love Jane Richardson, a young woman discontented with life in Barrow and she is really playing with Robbie.
The first person Pennant meets is his household helper Louder Williams who has a strange life playing a cello and being a lowly almost free laborer.
The important themes are running through the narrative include faith. love, nature, identity and death. It’s a short but powerful book and it’s beautifully written.
There’s something about this book which reminds me of Alice Munro – maybe it’s because both artists (and that’s what they are) seem to have been inspired by the natural setting.
The book is said to be based on Beethoven’s Sixth (Pastoral) Symphony although I don’t know enough to say.