Tuesday, January 13, 2015

HFVBT: William Peak's The Oblate's Confession - Review

My thoughts
I'm so conflicted about this book. On one hand, I have to admit to being fascinated by monastic life. Those who choose that way of life have always been deeply interesting to me. To have that much devotion to your faith is amazing to me. However, an oblate is donated to the church by his family so, in a sense, did not choose that life. It is from this knowledge that much of Winwaed's behavior is understood. And yet, he is still so devoted to his faith in the end that he feels the deep need to confess a sin that the less religiously devout would probably not bat an eyelash at. So this is what I liked about the book. These realizations about faith and the motivations of God's monastic servants.

Unfortunately, I did find the reading a bit slow. Winwaed tended to go on and on about a lot that didn't seem relevant and his internal monologue could be droning at times. I feel like the book could have benefited from having more prominently present characters. I realize that the story is largely about how Winwaed finds in The Hermit (Gwynedd) a father figure and mentor and that was an aspect of the book I found touching. But I just found myself wishing for a little more action, I guess.

This is the author's debut novel and by no means do I dissuade anyone from reading it. It is definitely worth a read. Just be warned that if you're looking for a lot of action, you won't find it. This book is meant to be a more sober, contemplative read which, in itself, is not always a bad thing.

About the book
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Secant Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Set in 7th century England, The Oblate’s Confession tells the story of Winwaed, a boy who – in a practice common at the time – is donated by his father to a local monastery. In a countryside wracked by plague and war, the child comes to serve as a regular messenger between the monastery and a hermit living on a nearby mountain. Missing his father, he finds a surrogate in the hermit, an old man who teaches him woodcraft, the practice of contemplative prayer, and, ultimately, the true meaning of fatherhood. When the boy’s natural father visits the monastery and asks him to pray for the death of his enemy – an enemy who turns out to be the child’s monastic superior – the boy’s life is thrown into turmoil. It is the struggle Winawed undergoes to answer the questions – Who is my father? Whom am I to obey? – that animates, and finally necessitates, The Oblate’s Confession.

While entirely a work of fiction, the novel’s background is historically accurate: all the kings and queens named really lived, all the political divisions and rivalries actually existed, and each of the plagues that visit the author’s imagined monastery did in fact ravage that long-ago world. In the midst of a tale that touches the human in all of us, readers will find themselves treated to a history of the “Dark Ages” unlike anything available today outside of textbooks and original source material.

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About the Author
William Peak spent ten years researching and writing The Oblate’s Confession, his debut novel. Based upon the work of one of the great (if less well known) figures of Western European history, the Venerable Bede, Peak’s book is meant to reawaken an interest in that lost and mysterious period of time sometimes called “The Dark Ages.”

Peak received his baccalaureate degree from Washington & Lee University and his master’s from the creative writing program at Hollins University. He works for the Talbot County Free Library on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Thanks to the column he writes forThe Star Democrat about life at the library (archived at http://www.tcfl.org/peak/), Peak is regularly greeted on the streets of Easton: “Hey, library guy!” In his free time he likes to fish and bird and write long love letters to his wife Melissa.

For more information please visit William Peak’s website.

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A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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1 comment:

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  1. Meg-A Bookish AffairJanuary 14, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    Hrm, I am a little undecided on this one still. I think I would want a little more action in the book.

- See more at: http://www.techtrickhome.com/2013/02/show-comment-box-above-comments-on.html#sthash.TjHz2Px9.dpuf
- See more at: http://www.techtrickhome.com/2013/02/show-comment-box-above-comments-on.html#sthash.TjHz2Px9.dpuf