André Alexis brings a modern sensibility and a new liveliness to an age-old genre, the pastoral.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WRITERS' TRUST OF CANADA FICTION PRIZE
ONE OF THE GLOBE AND MAIL'S GLOBE 100: BEST BOOKS OF 2014
There were plans for an official welcome. It was to take place the following Sunday. But those who came to the rectory on Father Pennant's second day were the ones who could not resist seeing him sooner. Here was the man to whomthey would confess the darkest things. It was important to feel him out. Mrs. Young, for instance, after she had watched him eat a piece of her macaroni pie, quietly asked what he thought of adultery.
For his very first parish, Father Christopher Pennant is sent to the sleepy town of Barrow. With more sheep than people, it is sleepily bucolic – toomuch Barrow Brew on Barrow Day is the rowdiest it gets. But things aren't so idyllic for Liz Denny, whose fiancé; doesn't want to choose between Liz and his more worldly lover Jane, or for Father Pennant himself, whose faith is profoundly shaken by the miracles he witnesses – a mayor walking on water, intelligent gypsy moths and a talking sheep.
"This novel’s pleasures indeed include a rich sense of place, but thatsense comes without sentimentality, and that place is something one might just as easily flee from as call home. Pastoral beauty is certainly on offer, but Alexis’ fluid, evocative descriptions of the rural wonders that surround Barrow are much more than nostalgia for a childhood idyll or mere reverie for revere’s sake — they constitute the very heart of Pastoral’s unresolved/unresolvable crisis of faith." —National Post
"It’s been clear since his debut novel, Childhood, that Alexis is one of our most distinctive and exacting prose stylists, and at its highest pitch, as in the breathtaking final paragraph, these are sentences that attain the level of the best music." —Montreal Gazette