Acts and Omissions by Catherine Fox from SPCK Publishing is set in the fictional diocese of Lindchester. It follows a year in the lives of the clergy and those whose lives and love are tied up with them. All life, all colour, all flovours of the church are characters here. There is plenty of romance, will they/won’t they and the stuff of life and ministry.
The story is very firmly rooted in the Church of England and it’s life and practices, but having been a Minister in a cathedral town, I recognize the characters and the life of a Cathedral Close.
It is interesting to have a novel set so firmly in church culture and happenings, probably not something you would find anywhere else. It is not a parody or assumption of what goes off among the lives of clergy, as much fiction that involves the church is, but from someone who knows. That shows through and I am grateful for the honesty of it. It goes a long way to showing that the lives of the clergy are quite normal, and not as rarefied or ‘holy’ as those outside seem to think.
I was slightly uncomfortable about the ‘Is or isn’t the Bishop gay?’ theme that runs through much of the book. Having their sexuality questioned and gossiped about is a reality that so many have to live with, and is very painful; but maybe that is the point of raising it – to make people think.
All in all, it is an enjoyable story of real, human, rounded characters, with all their failings and foibles – with some real moments of hope and healing.