The Bishop's Man

The Bishop's Man

A Novel

eBook - 2009
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Something about the boat, perhaps its name, and the posture of that boy caused me to defer my anxieties for the moment. It was so rare to see someone that age stationary, somber. I was more accustomed to a rowdy adolescent enthusiasm. This young man, I realized, was exceptional only because of time and place. Maybe any one of them in those circumstances would have been the same. Quiet. But he caught my attention nevertheless and linked the moment to tender places in the memory. Doomed boys and men: in retrospect they all have that stillness.
--from The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre

The year is 1993 and Father Duncan MacAskill stands at a small Cape Breton fishing harbour a few miles from where he grew up. Enjoying the timeless sight of a father and son piloting a boat, Duncan takes a moment's rest from his worries. But he does not yet know that his already strained faith is about to be tested by his interactions with a troubled boy, 18-year-old Danny MacKay.

Known to fellow priests as the "Exorcist" because of his special role as clean-up man for the Bishop of Antigonish, Duncan has a talent for coolly reassigning deviant priests while ensuring minimal fuss from victims and their families. It has been a lonely vocation, but Duncan is generally satisfied that his work is a necessary defense of the church. All this changes when lawyers and a policeman snoop too close for the bishop's comfort. Duncan is assigned a parish in the remote Cape Breton community of Creignish and told to wait it out.

This is not the first time Duncan has been sent away for knowing too much: decades ago, the displeased bishop sent a more idealistic Duncan to Honduras for voicing suspicions about a revered priest. It was there that Duncan first tasted forbidden love, with the beautiful Jacinta. It was also there that he met the courageous Father Alfonso, who taught him more about spiritual devotion than he had ever known back home. But when an act of violence in Honduras shook Duncan to his core, he returned home a changed man, willing to quietly execute the bishop's commands.

Now, decades later in Cape Breton, Duncan claims to his concerned sister Effie that isolation is his preference. But when several women seek to befriend him, along with some long-estranged friends, Duncan is alternately tempted and unnerved by their attentions. Drink becomes his only solace.

Attempting to distract himself with parish work, Duncan takes an interest in troubled young Danny, whose good-hearted father sells Duncan a boat he names The Jacinta . To Duncan's alarm, he discovers that the boy once spent time with an errant priest who had been dispatched by Duncan himself to Port Hood. Duncan begins to ask questions, dreading the answers. When tragedy strikes, he knows that he must act. But will his actions be those of a good priest, or an all too flawed man?

Winner of the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Linden MacIntyre's searing The Bishop's Man is an unforgettable and complex character study of a deeply conflicted man at the precipice of his life. Can we ever be certain of an individual's guilt or innocence? Is violence ever justified? Can any act of contrition redeem our own complicity?
Publisher: Berkeley : Counterpoint Press : Distributed by Publishers Group West, c2009
ISBN: 9780307372857
Branch Call Number: Online eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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Sep 04, 2018

A troubling story of guilt and moral duty. A thoughtful read, well written.

Jun 07, 2015

I loved this book. It is
structurally complex, weaving past and present and a number of storylines together, but so well constructed that the layers add depth and meaning without impeding the reader. A very satisfying read.

Bunny_Watson716 Nov 01, 2014

The language is lovely in this book, and the anguish that the central character, Father MacAskill fells, is palpable. Lovely reading.

Jun 22, 2014

the author's style is a little bit here and there and leaves you wondering what really happened.

Oct 23, 2012

Wasn't sure what to expect, but its landscape/weather descriptions made me feel like I was in Cape Breton. You meet Father Duncan MacAskill who is a Catholic priest. He has been moved around a few times as sensitive material came to light. Back in his neck of the woods, he allows himself to reflect on his life experiences while re-aquainting himself with the locals. Though he still has flashbacks to his former life in Central America and his love, Jacinta. Things don't go as expected there or his current posting and rattles him to the core. Will he be able to overcome his addition? Will he ever find Brendan Bell? Will he find out what happened to Danny MacKay and come to terms with it? What does this all really mean?

Sep 05, 2012

So disappointing on so many levels...nothing but allusions and denials and confusion as to what was happening, where and when. Sorry but I will not be recommending this book to anyone.

Jul 17, 2012

A remarkable book, MacIntyre's sense of time and place are pitch perfect. I can see this novel being on the required reading list for future generations of high school English students across Canada.

bllw1205 Jun 21, 2012

Chappy r n
Lyrically written A staightforward commentary on abuse in all it's forms, and the destruction left in it's wake.

LUCKYTHIRTY Dec 07, 2011

Excellent book: very interesting perspective on looking at priesthood from their eyes

Nov 07, 2011

A very, very good read, and the fact that it won validates the Giller process (can't say that of all the winners). MacIntyre has crafted an excellent character study within an unusual treatment of a timely issue.

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Mar 04, 2010

Good story-line but rambles in places & hard to follow.


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Mar 08, 2010

"You know the eagle's secret?" he said. "He never lets us see him scavenging. You only see him soaring. Or sitting high up, somewhere out of reach. Kind of superior. He's very discreet about the mundane, the mortal. Like the priesthood used to be. Out of reach. It's easier to mythologize that way, priesthood and eaglehood both."

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