This is a deep and thought-provoking story portraying Tom’s life as a gay priest, in a homophobic catholic church system. We follow his struggle with his sexuality, and how he tries to reconcile his sexuality with his catholic religion.
The story is told from Tom’s perspective throughout the book. The book has two timelines. The current time and Tom’s youth which is shown to us in flashbacks. I am not always a fan of flashbacks, but the author has used them well, and I think I only had one slight moment of confusion between the timelines.
The story starts with Antony, Toms former lover of his youth turns up at St James church, one of two churches in Toms parish. They slowly rebuild their friendship, but it also brings back the many issues from Tom’s past.
Through flashbacks we see Tom as a young man struggling with his sexuality and trying to reconcile it with the catholic teachings against homosexuals. When he meets Antony for the first time, and they become close which leads them to sharing a bed. Tom is still in denial and runs off to join the church at Ash Burrow seminary where he training to become a priest begins.
Whilst training to be a priest Tom who shuts out friends from his past and becomes very isolated. So, when he is sexually abused by Derek Worrell (who later becomes the Bishop of Preston). He has no one to turn to for support. Which leads to suicidal thoughts.
At 50 having hidden behind his religion and suffered the abuse and hypocritical teachings that the traditionalist Catholics insist he follows. He finally reaches breaking point. He decides to go against the Bishop at his Easter sermon, He tells his parishioners that he has been living with HIV for the past twenty years.
An often harrowing and heart wrenching story of one man’s faith, and battle to be accepted and fight to pull the catholic church into modern times of acceptance of all.
The story and characters draw you into toms struggles and the harsh truths of Establishment (in this case the catholic church) against the small man. The author has portrayed the story well and to me he shows that it is not the catholic religion that is at fault but rather a minority that have the power who interpret the Bible to their choosing.
The book does not read as a standard romance but is a little like a memoir of Toms life. The book has left we with many deep thoughts and I know I will remember Tom’s journey for a long time. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a story that shows life as we live it warts and all.