Book of the Month: July 2015

unseen things aboveUnseen Things Above by Catherine Fox

Our Book of the Month for July is a return to the fictional world of Lindchester, first encountered in ‘Acts and Omissions’. Written by the wife of the Dean of Liverpool, the novel takes us into the lives of the clergy centred on the Cathedral. And what a tangled mass we find. We may expect senior clergy to be ‘Holier than thou’. Not a bit of it. These clergy are exposed with a wicked wit as believable, sentient beings with all the hang-ups and problems of any group of people- but with a few extra related to their church calling.

The narrator speaks to us directly, by which device the author can get us close to all the characters. It’s almost like talking to a gossipy friend as we evesdrop with her on the complicated situations and conversations in which her characters find themselves.

And what characters they are! A beautiful but flawed and dangerous choirboy. A woman Dean. An overworked Archdeacon who just wants to be with the woman he loves. A trendy vicar who may not be all she seems. We are soon as hooked on this world as many of us are on the Archers.

Catherine has a very readable style and writes not only with sympathy (in the main) for the foibles of her characters; she also has a good eye for the surroundings which she describes well, as we travel with her through the seasons.

This is a novel which touches on serious issues concerning the Church of England today, including women in the church and same sex marriage, but it is written with a great comedic touch.   As with ‘Acts and Omission’, several passages made me laugh out loud.

When packing for your holiday or looking for something to read in the garden, do pick up the Lindchester novels. But start with ‘Acts and Omissions’ if you haven’t yet read it. Now I’ve finished ‘Unseen things Above’ I’m feeling quite bereft- and hoping there will be a further instalment.

Reviewed by Jenny Monds, Director of Learning Resources, Sarum College.

The author will be at Sarum College on Friday 16th July. Contact the bookshop for tickets.

Special price of £8.99 in the shop (posted out for free) or buy it together with ‘Acts & Omissions’ for just £17.

£6.99 + postage from until 31st July 2015. RRP £9.99.

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