An excellent literary and Christian novel

An excellent literary and Christian novel

I have often decried here the lack of good literate Christian fiction. So much Christian fiction is just bad, corny, unrealistic, badly written. By “Christian fiction” I mean novels in which the main characters are overtly Christian and the “background” story involves Christian thinking about the world and God, etc. I tried to read several of these novels, but almost always ended up disappointed because the writing is poor and/or the plot is corny and unrealistic.

I’m re-reading a Christian novel that I read a few years ago and actually reviewed and recommended here. But most of you probably weren’t following my blog at the time. Some may have been. For you, this is my reminder to buy this book and read it. You will not be disappointed.

There is something else (and I will soon reveal its title and author) that is exceptional. The main character is a very, very good father. And not at all the modern or contemporary stereotype of an unfaithful, indifferent, emotionless or simply angry and distant father and husband. He is a widower and still mourns the loss of his wife five years ago.

The main character is a simple man, a Canadian Catholic Christian, very devout but not pre-Vatican 2, obviously cultured, self-taught and influenced by: GK Chesterton, CS Lewis, Charles Taylor, et al. He also reads the Bible and prays daily. But he struggles to understand God’s ways and is open and honest about them with his priest who is a personal friend.

The book is The Father’s Tale by Michael D. O’Brien. O’Brien is best known for his series of apocalyptic (not at all dispensational) novels. The Father’s Tale is a “slow burn”. You have to get into it before you really fall in love with the main character and his passionate and obsessive search for his lost son. Along the way, there are a lot of “talks” (stream of consciousness in the main character’s mind) about art, music, culture, history, books, etc. I guess O’Brien is sharing his own thoughts with us through this “conversation” in the mind of the main character (part between him and his priest and sometimes between him and strangers he meets on his journey ).

You discover almost immediately that he loves his two young adult sons very much, but does not have enough contact with them for him. They both went to college or university and rarely come home. The book is set in a time when email was not commonly used and cell phones were rare. It’s hard to say exactly when the story takes place, but I’m guessing around 1990.

The writing is exceptionally literary for such an overtly religious novel.

The story is about the father’s search for his youngest son who went to Oxford University and then suddenly went off the radar by making two very quick and secret phone calls to his father, both very cryptic but indicating that her son was involved. with some esoteric cult. With great difficulty, the father goes in search of his son. What a story. What a journey. I won’t give any more. But if you like fiction, and if, like me, you think there should be more good Christian fiction, and if, like me, you’re tired of the way men are treated in popular culture, including fiction, you MUST read this book. I wish it was available on Audible; I would like to listen to it this time.

I have forgotten enough that reading it again today, after a few years, is still very satisfying. I remember things (people, events) as I encounter them, but not in advance. It’s not because it’s forgettable, but it’s because it’s a really long book and sometimes I skim through a chapter when it’s not crucial to the main story. But I’m a speed reader, so even when I “skip” I “get” the main message.

The title “The Father’s Tale” is common; there are several novels with this title. Look for this author’s one with the photo of the boy holding a very large toy boat on the cover. Please do, and share your thoughts about it with me/us here.

Irene B. Bowles