The Long Fall... the third book in the Hawk and Dove series.
This story opens with Brother Tom, musing on the loveliness of a late summer eve. Tom is now thirty-three years old, and well settled in his life at St. Alcuin's. He is Father Peregrine's personal attendant, and as such his responsibilities range from shaving his superior to lecturing him in common sense. Tom has bonded with his Abbot, more than if they were blood relations. Father knows when Tom is troubled, and always invites him to "Tell me about it." Tom knows when Father is pushing himself beyond reason, and he gently-but-firmly takes him to task. It's a relationship of respect and common humanity.
Could anything break their understanding?
Could a change in circumstances destroy their mutual trust?
Can a soul make itself understood when a body is weakened and afflicted?
Can love reach beyond speechlessness and provide a healing embrace in pain?
These and other essential questions are asked in this tender tale. I can see the author's background in hospice care coming through in this episode. She shows us Brother Tom coping with the physical suffering of his dear friend, and learning how to walk that friend toward death, while coping with his own varied emotions and reactions.
Some scenes are so beautiful, and so true, and so good, as we see grace amid hard realities. Her portrayal of Brother John and Brother Michael, the monastery's infirmarians, is a tribute to all those who work in the healing arts. The indignity of illness and the depersonalization of becoming only a "patient"- John and Michael resist those attitudes. They strive to tend the sick with the care of Christ, treating each old, sick man with the same honor as when they were sound and healthy.
Read these books, and let the characters take up residence in your heart. There is a heart-easing, comforting way about these books.
I thank Lion Hudson books for providing me a review copy of this book.