The Bishop's Man

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The Bishop's Man

by Linden Macintyre

Random House of Canada | July 21, 2011 | Hardcover

The Bishop's Man is rated 3.6842 out of 5 by 38.
Something about the boat, perhaps its name, and the posture of that boy caused me to defer my anxieties for the moment. It was so rare to see someone that age stationary, somber. I was more accustomed to a rowdy adolescent enthusiasm. This young man, I realized, was exceptional only because of time and place. Maybe any one of them in those circumstances would have been the same. Quiet. But he caught my attention nevertheless and linked the moment to tender places in the memory. Doomed boys and men: in retrospect they all have that stillness.
--from The Bishop’s Man by Linden MacIntyre
 
The year is 1993 and Father Duncan MacAskill stands at a small Cape Breton fishing harbour a few miles from where he grew up. Enjoying the timeless sight of a father and son piloting a boat, Duncan takes a moment’s rest from his worries. But he does not yet know that his already strained faith is about to be tested by his interactions with a troubled boy, 18-year-old Danny MacKay.
 
Known to fellow priests as the “Exorcist” because of his special role as clean-up man for the Bishop of Antigonish, Duncan has a talent for coolly reassigning deviant priests while ensuring minimal fuss from victims and their families. It has been a lonely vocation, but Duncan is generally satisfied that his work is a necessary defense of the church. All this changes when lawyers and a policeman snoop too close for the bishop’s comfort. Duncan is assigned a parish in the remote Cape Breton community of Creignish and told to wait it out.
 
This is not the first time Duncan has been sent away for knowing too much: decades ago, the displeased bishop sent a more idealistic Duncan to Honduras for voicing suspicions about a revered priest. It was there that Duncan first tasted forbidden love, with the beautiful Jacinta. It was also there that he met the courageous Father Alfonso, who taught him more about spiritual devotion than he had ever known back home. But when an act of violence in Honduras shook Duncan to his core, he returned home a changed man, willing to quietly execute the bishop’s commands.
 
Now, decades later in Cape Breton, Duncan claims to his concerned sister Effie that isolation is his preference. But when several women seek to befriend him, along with some long-estranged friends, Duncan is alternately tempted and unnerved by their attentions. Drink becomes his only solace.
 
Attempting to distract himself with parish work, Duncan takes an interest in troubled young Danny, whose good-hearted father sells Duncan a boat he names The Jacinta. To Duncan’s alarm, he discovers that the boy once spent time with an errant priest who had been dispatched by Duncan himself to Port Hood. Duncan begins to ask questions, dreading the answers. When tragedy strikes, he knows that he must act. But will his actions be those of a good priest, or an all too flawed man?
 
Winner of the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Linden MacIntyre’s searing The Bishop’s Man is an unforgettable and complex character study of a deeply conflicted man at the precipice of his life. Can we ever be certain of an individual’s guilt or innocence? Is violence ever justified? Can any act of contrition redeem our own complicity?

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 416 pages, 9.3 × 6.5 × 1.35 in

Published: July 21, 2011

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307357066

ISBN - 13: 9780307357069

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Getting closure A well written book about a very difficult subject.  The writer captures some of the ambivalence of the time and the essence of living on the East Coast in a remote town. Reality is deceptive in this novel.  As one reads deeper, you come up with so many different questions about life.  The characters are conflicted and continue to struggle with atonement, redemption and their past.  No nice tidy endings here.  A great book to read.
Date published: 2013-11-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and Captivating Book 2 in the Cape Breton trilogy Synopsis is mainly taken from WiKipedia and expended with my own thoughts The story follows the life of a Catholic priest named Duncan MacAskill. In the 1970s MacAskill convinced a rural Nova Scotia priest who impregnated his own housekeeper to quickly move to Toronto and avoided what could have been a significant local controversy. MacAskill was subsequently called upon numerous times by the Catholic Church to quietly resolve numerous potential controversies. By the 1990s, MacAskill was the dean of a Nova Scotia Catholic university. He is soon sent to oversee a remote Cape Breton parish were he would have a low profile, deal with a new impending public controversy, and come to terms with the consequences of his past cover-ups. With the stream of stories about church sex abuse scandals around the world although a fiction it is more a story about contrition rather than redemption and has definitely the ring of truth to it. Mr. McIntyre award winning investigative reporter’s eyes brought forward the most disturbing crime in our society, the sexual abuse of children. The storyline takes also other themes such as the corruption and perversion of power, in this instance, the bishop and of the transgression in the Catholic Church and the hidden demons that can haunt the priests. Reading the narration feels like the priest (MacAskill) is actually talking to us. The whole story has a very sentimental tone to it and is peppered with Gaelic dialogue. It may drag a bit and the subject may not please everyone for its sensitive topic but once stated it is definitely a hard book to put down.
Date published: 2013-05-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed reading this book- descriptive writing on landscape/weather Wasn't sure what to expect, but its landscape/weather descriptions made me feel like I was in Cape Breton. You meet Father Duncan MacAskill who is a Catholic priest. He has been moved around a few times as sensitive material came to light. Back in his neck of the woods, he allows himself to reflect on his life experiences while re-aquainting himself with the locals. Though he still has flashbacks to his former life in Central America and his love, Jacinta. Things don't go as expected there or his current posting and rattles him to the core. Will he be able to overcome his addition? Will he ever find Brendan Bell? Will he find out what happened to Danny MacKay and come to terms with it? What does this all really mean
Date published: 2012-10-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great voice, fair tale The best thing about the Bishop's Man is MacIntyre's prose. He uses a clipped style and an engaging first person POV, but doesn't feel he has to berate his audience with details. We get what's happening through what's given and what's implied. The details of alcoholism are particularly well-handled. The main issue I have with the novel is that it's about a priest, and a priest with a scarred past and a crisis of faith and all that, but still a man of the cloth. Very little PRIESTLY behaviour is detailed. He references his homilies, but we're never shown one. He spends little time thinking about his job because he's preoccupied with battling his desires. Natural enough, and I enjoyed that aspect of it, but I sometimes found Duncan's choice of vocation unbelievable. He even gets caught out once by another priest who quotes a Psalm and Duncan has no idea what he's talking about. If the man's a priest, I guess I expected a bit more priestly behaviour, no matter his disenchantment. But overall, a great read, told from the inside of a dark time for the Catholic church, when exposures and coverups were shaking its foundation in this country.
Date published: 2012-09-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Cryptic and confusing 2.5 stars This was about a priest (Duncan?) in Nova Scotia in the mid-90s, during the time of the sexual abuse and cover-ups. I wasn't impressed. I thought it was extremely cryptic, and therefore confusing. I liked the first couple of sentences, and thought the writing seemed like I might like it. But, it was slow and I had trouble focusing on it. About a third of the way through, I actually thought something was going to happen (!), and maybe it would pick up, but it didn't take long before it went back to cryptic and confusing. Overall it was boring, nothing really happened. Things might have been insinuated, but nothing happened. I think that, given the topic of the book, it actually could have been interesting, but it wasn't. Despite all my negative comments, at first I thought the book was o.k., but I also expected it to pick up and/or for something to happen, so my rating dropped as I continued through it and nothing did happen. I'm having a hard time rating it, especially in comparison to others I've read this year that I probably should have marked lower. In comparison to those, I will give this 2.5 stars, slightly higher than my review might indicate.
Date published: 2012-09-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Page-Turning Portrayal I now know why this book won the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award as well as receiving numerous other literary accolades. What an excellent book! I decided to read it to prepare myself for reading Linden MacIntyre's new novel, "Why Men Lie" (publication date: March 2012) The story follows the life of a Catholic priest named Duncan MacAskill. Duncan is known among his fellow clergymen as the "Exorcist" because he has spent most of his time as a priest being the Bishop's clean-up man and take care of potential controversies before they become public. After a period of time when he was sent to minister in Central America, he is sent by the Bishop to oversee a small Cape Breton Island parish where he would keep a low profile and deal with an new impending public controversy, all the while, dealing with his own personal demons. I found this book to be very well-written, even though at times the plot jumps back and forth between the present and the past. The dialogue between characters was very true to life, in my opinion. You really get a sense of Duncan's personal inner conflict and wonder how he is going to make it through. This book was published at around the same time as a $15 million settlement was reached in the sexual abuse scandal in the Antigonish diocese in Nova Scotia. As a non- Catholic, I did not know some of the references to the Catholic religion, but that did not seem to hamper my understanding of what was happening in the book. "The Bishop's Man" has been described in Quill & Quire as "a well-crafted, brave and painful examination of one of the most monstrous issues of our time." Since Linden MacIntyre is from Cape Breton Island, the reader gets a true sense of what life on the island is really like. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2012-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought provoking I am not often inspired to pick up a book simply because it has won national awards but this book and its subject matter was intriguing. I was not disappointed. The very delicate subject of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and its subsequent cover up for years might turn you away from this troubling story. Don't let it - it is an important story to be read and understood. It is told from the perspective of a priest who is "chosen" by his bishop to be the bridge between victim and perpetrator and his ultimate goal of preserving the institution of the Holy Mother Church. Damaged himself, the story skirts his own troubled past as well as the slow unraveling of the web of secrecy that has been created to protect the Church and his own conflict with the role that he has played throughout. Without delving into the gory details of abuse, the author has given us incredible insight into these tormented souls. Both the soul of the abused as well as the soul of the priests sent to "counsel" the victims. A difficult subject at best, the book is incredibly well written providing the reader with a view angled to both sides but never losing its ultimate message that hiding what had been done damaged the Church, its pastors as well as its parishoners.
Date published: 2011-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Insightful and engrossing First off, this book is not for everyone. It’s a bit slow, complicated at times, it touches on topics not everyone likes to discuss and it is definitely not a page-turner. However, it is a gripping tale of the odd conflict between life and humanity. The central character is a priest with a somewhat-checkered past. After years in the church he is asked to run his own parish, near his hometown in eastern Canada. While there, our priest learns to confront his past demons, while dealing with new ones along the way. Through a writing style that can be best described as poetic, MacIntyre reveals the hardship that a priest must live through for his “profession” – primarily loneliness and constant gossip. I felt the book was showing how priests, who are often held to an unfairly high standard, struggle with same factors we all do. Priests are simply human beings, who make mistakes, have doubts and insecurities. There is a part of the book that talks about people being too wrapped up in institutions (regardless of what they are) and there downfalls…we forget who we are in them– I think anyone can relate to that. A book that makes you review and consider your life – a tough, but great read.
Date published: 2011-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Elegant and full of nuance To read The Bishop’s Man, by Linden MacIntyre, is to come to an understanding about nuance, patience and the sometimes ambiguity of knowledge. The novel is set in the late 1990s of Cape Breton, at a time when the Catholic Church is under siege both from within and without, and when Canada’s fisheries are collapsing. Come into this Father Duncan MacAskill, known among his colleagues as the ‘Exorcist’, the damage-control man for the Bishop of Antigonish. Duncan himself is in need of damage control, burned out, over-stressed, searching for his own relevance in a Church with diminishing relevance. There is very much the feeling of shadows in this novel, of whispers in the wind, of the reluctance to acknowledge hurt, tragedy, and responsibility. I know of many editors, even writers, who would have condemned the first half of this novel as too introspective, too slow, that the character of Duncan MacAskill is too remote. They would be wrong. As was I. What Linden MacIntyre creates with this cool, distant approach is a fragile foundation he then, in the last few chapters, ruthlessly, and yet with grace, rips out from under the reader’s metaphorical feet and leaves you numb, in my case weeping. In a story so reserved in its emotional impact, it creates a thunderous impact in the end so that the only word left to describe this novel is memorable.
Date published: 2011-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! I had this book on my shelf for almost a year before I started reading it, and it took me less than a week to finish. Macintyre's insight into the thought processes of a man of the cloth make you believe that you are reading a work of non-fiction. This book is truly a great Canadian novel.
Date published: 2011-01-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I expected I bought this book thinking that, with a title like "Bishop's man" it will be more about MacAskill being the bishop's man. It was more about his humanity and shortcomings as a priests. It was a good story but I agree that I will probably not read it again.
Date published: 2011-01-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Priests limp through it. In the tradition of books like The Thornbirds, Macintyre presents Catholic priests as humans with failings. The protagonist, the bishop's man, is without personality or energy and Macintyre does a good job of developing such an uninteresting character. Although the book touches on the current sex scandals within the Catholic church, Macintyre neither examines them deeply nor offers any insights, with the possible exception of having the Bishop frame the publicity about them as the work of anti-Catholics. . In the end, the book is as sterile as the priests with whom it deals.
Date published: 2010-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it I thought this was a beautifully written and thoughtful book about a good man who has made decisions in his life which he thought were for the greater good, but has to face the fact that much damage was done.
Date published: 2010-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down This novel is beautifully written and holds your attention. It's relevant with all the bad publicity the Catholic Church has received lately and it gives an interesting perspective.
Date published: 2010-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worthy of the Giller I could not put this one down. It was a great read and I did not find it dull at all. The subject matter is dark and this is not a 'feel good novel' but at the same time, I thought the author drew a good balance between the worst actions of humanity (and the church) and the general decency of people; our capacity to love, forgive, and overcome life's most difficult obstacles. The main character's struggle between being a man/person and his obligations/vows to the church made him surprisingly relatable. The writing was excellent and I look forward to more novels by MacIntrye. The dialogue and discriptions of the Cape Breton setting were so real I felt like I was transported back to the east coast.
Date published: 2010-08-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wasn't Terrible but I wouldn't read it again I bought the book because there was a preview online of the first chapter. It grasped my attention. Unfortunalty if I would have known that the story line was as slow as it was I wouldn't have spent the money on a hard cover book. I wasn't overly impressed but I wasn't outright bored. I will not be reading the book again.
Date published: 2010-07-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Well Written...But Joyless Though well written…with words and paragraphs that flow...I’ve named this novel “the joyless book”. “Father Duncan is the bishop’s fixer, the guy called on to root out corrupt priests. For years he’s made sure sexual abusers get moved around with no public scandal or personal accountability. When he’s sent to his hometown in Nova Scotia to deal with a growing crisis there, it looks like his personal doubts – he has his own secrets – might threaten his professional duties.” I was impressed with this book...even the subject matter didn’t deter me from wanting to finish. What did make me glad to finally turn the last page was that I could finally step out of the morose atmosphere the author managed to convey throughout the book. It seemed that none of his characters got any joy out of being alive. They all seemed to swim around in secrets and the past. Life just isn’t like that for everyone...and while I could probably handle the main character’s glum and pessimistic attitude...I couldn’t handle every character living in that type of environment with that type of sad mood.
Date published: 2010-06-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre is written in first person, and revolves around a priest named Duncan MacAskill. I was surprised that there was so little discussed about religion considering that it was in the viewpoint of a priest. I neither liked nor disliked the protagonist, which is exactly what I felt about this book. There were many different scenes that started off with people talking, and I would have to guess who they were. A lot of the scenes, I found, were pointless. There were flashbacks to a time when MacAskill had visited the Honduras, to his attempt at a teenage relationship, and of his abusive father. These flashbacks and the problems the protagonist faced made him more human. Overall, there isn’t as much excitement as I was led to believe. Everything is very subtle, everything happens slowly. I was just reading without being amused or fascinated, and for that, I kept getting lost in the words and forgetting what I had just read and then having to reread those sections. Perhaps if I were a Catholic, I would’ve enjoyed this book more. I don’t know. The priest, Duncan MacAskill, is seen running errands for the Bishop to prevent bad news related to priests from becoming public information. MacAskill meets with those that have been sexually abused by a priest to help cover up the information, reassuring them that something will be done to the abuser, the priest. ‘Victim’ is a word that the Bishop refuses to use because victims are only creations of an over-active imagination. It is the Bishop who says that he wants priests to keep their “noses out of public matters." So that the public will “keep their noses out of ours.” (209) MacAskill is trusted by the Bishop, and whatever work he is assigned related to situations such as the above one, he is to keep it a secret. Later on, he is assigned his own perish of Creignish. Yet wherever he is appointed, in essence, the job of a priest entails the priest to be alone most of the time. And being the man the Bishop relies on, the bearer of bad news, he is lonelier than most priests. Once MacAskill thinks, “A storm gives purpose to my idleness… Or justifies the lack of purpose.” (94) He mentions that when he was choosing to become a priest, he was explicitly told to choose “between the desires of the world and the life of sacrifice and service.” (133) It is seen that the loneliness eventually gets to MacAskill and he develops an addiction to alcohol. MacAskill does wonder what leads a priest to do such things, but he believes that “Deviance is a loss of faith.” (96) There is this one former priest named Brendan Bell that MacAskill believes might be the cause of some occurrences. A boy residing in the perish next to MacAskill’s, named Danny MacKay, is behaving badly, and in the past had been in contact with the former priest, Brendan Bell. MacAskill wonders if Bell has been the cause of Danny’s depression. The following are some lines I enjoyed: “Age reopens forgotten places in the memory…” (124) “The sorrow comes in waves, the way the restless shoreline sighs and rustles long after the passage of a distant vessel.” (137) “A creeping uneasiness intruded like a cloud.” (171) ““A conscience is an awful curse… Guilt can turn into a disease if you’re not careful. That’s the trouble with diaries, at least if you’re honest in them.”” (203) “I should have seen what was coming next. But the future has no substance until it turns the corner into history.” (228) “They say the eyes reveal the state of the soul, and his eyes were clear as the blue sky that day.” (231) 2.5/5
Date published: 2010-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thank you Linden MacIntyre A story centering on a small town priest coming to terms with his role in the Catholic sex scandal cover-ups and his own personal demons. Suspenseful in its shifts in time line this book had me enthralled within 20 pages. MacIntyre did an absolute fantastic job in making the main character someone that I could relate to. While Reverend MacAskill's struggles are things specific to being a priest the undertone is something most anyone could relate to; Pressures from superiors to bury your beliefs and morals for the greater good of the 'company', temptations of forbidden love, and of course everyone's favorite, addiction. At almost 400 pages I tore through this book in less than a week. I would definitely recommend it, however I'm not sure I would read it again because the topic is decidedly dark and depressing. In saying that MacIntyre did an amazing job not getting lost in a horrifying subject. Great book!
Date published: 2010-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth the Read Initially I found this book difficult to get into. There are many characters, and the plot moves slowly. But I gained real insight into the abuse within the Catholic church, and how, perhaps, it is hidden. A wonderful, moving read - well worth the effort.
Date published: 2010-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! An absorbing, page turner as a priest confronts the secrets and questions his own role in priesthood and life.
Date published: 2010-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How I love Linden MacIntyre! With Linden MacIntyre being one of my favourite journalists, I was thrilled to hear of his novel being honoured as the winner of the Scotiabank Giller prize for 2010. After reading the synopsis of the story, I knew it would be an uncomfortable read, but trusted in MacIntyre’s reverence and honesty to make it through. I was not disappointed. The Bishop’s man is a story told in spirals, as we twist and turn through past and present fluidly, giving us a clearer picture of the events that can become cloudy through space and time. It is by way of these happenings that we are presented with brutally honest characters living lives of deceit and despair. These tragically flawed people are human in their beastliness, conflicted, damaged, and eternally struggling to break the vicious cycle of pain and suffering. At times my anger was palpable as the Bishop insisted on covering up the harsh realities of the evil-doings administered by the hands of his precious and misunderstood brotherhood, where ‘victims’ were only the creations of over-active imaginations and troubled youth. On more than one occasion I wrestled with my understanding of good and evil, and what faith means in today’s modern world. I am of the mind that Catholicism and its primitive structures are in need of a revamp in respect to how the world has changed, and what we’ve learned about humanity along the way. For the sake of the Catholics out there, I pray that they will make the changes that are needed to gain back so many members that they have lost due to their closed-mindedness and denial. As naïve as some may consider it, I will always believe that faith is an important and necessary part of a happy, moral and fulfilling life. Amidst the madness and injustice, we pause to take in the haunting and beautiful descriptions of small towns, where you can hear the fiddle and smell the sea salt lifting off the page. Linden MacIntyre has proven to be an adoring poet in his love of the East coast and of the Gaelic and English languages. His words are profound and emotive, and I look forward to picking up his other novels in the hopes of more of the same. Just a couple of his affecting offerings… “The future has no substance until it turns the corner into history.” “The bay is flat, endless pewter beneath the rising moon.” www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2010-03-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Probably not for everyone... The Bishop's Man was the 2009 Giller Prize winner. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Giller, it's Canada's largest annual prize for fiction, netting the winner $50,000. McIntyre, a well-known Canadian journalist who has won nine Geminis for broadcast journalism, beat out Anne Michaels, Colin McAdam, Annabel Lyon, and Kim Echlin. I'm not sure The Bishop's Man is a book I'd pick up on my own, but it's this month's book club pick. Still, the novel's opening pages had me intrigued. Its narrator, Father Duncan MacAskill, is an intriguing character, but then he starts to spiral out of control and so does the book. MacAskill is known as the "Exorcist." The Bishop sends him to clean up after fallen priests - men who have sullied the name of the priesthood by engaging in sexual relationships with - well - anyone. As we all know, celibacy is one of the tenets of the priesthood. MacAskill isn't without his own secrets, though. When the bishop decides to send him back to his childhood home, MacAskill is forced to confront his own demons. Isolated from the world in backwoods Cape Breton MacAskill suddenly realizes how lonely he is and he begins to drink heavily. The Bishop's Man is a page-turner. Lots of things are hinted at, enough to make the reader wonder: about the suicide of a young man and his relationship with a charismatic priest who has since left the order and married; about MacAskill's time in Honduras, revealed in snippets from his diary; about where his relationship with Stella, a woman in the village, might be headed; about his childhood. McIntyre juggles all these various threads and I guess this is where the book failed for me. I'm not a moron, but sometimes the out of sequence narration was really a pain-in-the-ass. I'm all for the elliptical, but I'm not sure it served the story in this instance (unless McIntyre was trying to mimic the disordered state of MacAskill's mind.) I haven't read the other novels on the Giller shortlist and so I'd be curious to see how they stack up against this one. I guess the one thing The Bishop's Man has going for it is a sense of immediacy. The Catholic Church has certainly had its share of troubles. Whether or not the novel's verisimilitude is enough to overlook its other issues is up to the reader, I suppose.
Date published: 2010-03-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Halle-ho-hum I really tried my darnedest to get into this book, the premise was intriguing and I found the main character to be an interesting fellow, dealing with his memories of his past work for the church and his drinking problem. But the constant time shifts throughout the book, often happening every paragraph, made it incredibly distracting to read. At times, you wouldn't realize until much later that you were in a different time period and would have to re-read a section with that in mind. This title just wasn't up my alley.
Date published: 2010-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Don't miss it I loved this book. Linden Macintyre has a wonderfully descriptive writing style that brings you into the story. I could hardly wait to pick this book back up every chance I had in order to move further into the story.
Date published: 2010-02-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wasn't Bad The start of the book seemed promising, but as it dragged on, it wasn't as good as I had originally thought it was going to be. It was an alright book, but not one that I would recommend if you are looking for something more exciting to read.
Date published: 2010-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from enjoyable Easy read, religion is never an easy subject. As usual felt that I lost my best friend when I finished it.
Date published: 2010-02-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointed I was really disappointed with the Bishop’s Man. It seemed to me, Linden Macintyre, the author, kept building the plot for THE BIG REVEAL, only to have me crash and burn; lunch box let down.. I spent most of the book trying to figure out what angle the writer was coming at. Was it a cover up of the cover up? Was it a tormented sexually suppressed priest story? Was it a victims statement story? None the less, knowing the esteemed Mr. Macintyre is a well known and well respected investigative journalist, I expected a monumental shock and awe finish, Or, at the very least, vindication for the victims. Instead, it was almost as if his main motive was to cast doubt by insinuating that some of the priests were not the perverted perpetrators that the public thought they might be. It seemed to me, the author was planting a seed of doubt in the minds of the readers. Maybe, some of the priests were just guilty by association. It brought to mind for me, the lynch mob scene from 1930’s movie, Frankenstein’s Monster; the scene when the villagers storm the old blind man’s cottage to burn and kill the monster. It’s not what it seems. Ya, the monster looks like a monster; ugly, disgusting, and vile, but wait. See the tears rolling down his face as the villagers scream hateful names at him. We realize, he’s only a man, after all, with feelings. He was made to be a monster at the hands of other men. Then there was the dispute over the use of the title of “victims” , when referring to the raped and molested. The bishop argued these children were not victims. I was having a hard time discerning whose side the author was on…the victims, the church? I thought the book went into more detail about the priest, or priests, frustrations and guilt after breaking a vow of celibacy, rather than detailing any guilt or remorse for committing the criminal act of child rape and molestation. I didn’t appreciate the writer, trying to place doubt in the readers minds that some priests may have been falsely accused, or falsely accused in the minds of the public/parishioners? Then, I started thinking, why write a fictional story, based on the disgusting and horrific events that have taken place in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, or all over Canada for that matter, when the facts and details were out front and centre in our daily newspapers for months. Facts, that were not disputed in a court of law. Why not write a non-fiction. Because, out there in the real world, the accusations were proven and became fact. The priests who were charged, went on to be convicted in a court of law, and subsequently sent to prison. To date, I have not heard of a single priest, Anglican, or Catholic, who was falsely accused. I wanted the Bishop’s Man to blow the lid off the Catholic Diocese in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and expose a conspiracy of cover up. I wanted Mr. Macintyre to expose the Catholic Church for what they are…a religious institution who think they are above the law. I say again, at the risk of repeating myself, disappointed. The author had his chance when he took on this controversial topic, to give us a piece of information we didn’t know about; something that didn’t come out in the press. The author could have, in the pages of the this book, stood up for the victims of child rape and molestation. He could have been their voice. But, instead, in the end, as we close the cover, and set the book down, we hate the Bishop’s Man. We hate him for his sins of secrecy, his weakness of conscious, and for lusting after women. And finally, his crime of aiding and abetting the church in order to protect the perverts who hid behind the cross. Oh...ah...maybe not all is lost. Maybe this is what Mr. Macintyre intended to do; expose the secret keepers. Maybe he wanted to tell us, The Bishop's Man is a job title in the Catholic Church.
Date published: 2010-02-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Read This novel portrays a RC priest, Duncan MacAskill, whose job is to basically clean up scandals made by other clergy .Haunted by memories of his own past, and faced with the temptations of everyday life , MacAskill, trudges through life trying to make everything fine in the catholic church, while his own life is in turmoil.Then a local suicide makes him question his decisions of the past and of the future. I always knew the RC church was a powerful machine, growing up raised in it , but I did not realize just how powerful. Macintyre shows great insight into the human weakness, the RC clergy must endure.. I had to wonder how much of this was actually fiction.
Date published: 2010-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A book deserving of its awards... A great book about a small town father struggling between faith and modern reality. A page turner with alot of interesting characters and plot shifts. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Date published: 2010-01-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not what I expected I found that the storyline was very confusing, jumping around a lot from past to present. I'm not really sure what the actual story is about, it all seemed very random to me. The end was vague and confused me. I was left wondering what had happened and needing more of an explanation.
Date published: 2009-12-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Bishop's Man Very current. I got a totally different insight into the priesthood! They are, after all, just men and not gods!
Date published: 2009-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good story Flipping between past and present was a little confusing at first but once the Father settled in one parish, it was a good story line and very deserving of the Gillis award. Love these stories set in Canada.
Date published: 2009-12-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Does not measure up!! I will start by saying I am an avid reader. I love award winners, can-lit and well written literature. This novel was very very ordinary. The first 200 pages made me want to put it down permanently as the editor allowed it to meander aimlessly. In the last half the editor (or author) decided that the pace needed to accelerate, and it had a "hurry up and get the rest of the story in" feel to it. It has all the trappings of a typical Canadian novel, right down to the themes of isolation, depression, alcoholism and abuse , but offers no new insights and is basically predictable. The characters are not memorable and do not inspire deep empathy. By the way, I am not Catholic and am in no way offended by the content. I simply found the novel did not measure up to the standards of an award winner! I was thinking that perhaps Linden Macintyre won the Giller Prize because of his personna rather than his writing skill.
Date published: 2009-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it read the book in one day ...
Date published: 2009-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Stunning Not being a particularly religious person I was surprised by how connected I felt with the main character Father MacAskill. This book was captivating from start to finish and nothing ended up happening as I expected it to. A most deserving Giller Prize winner and one I encourage everyone to pick up.
Date published: 2009-11-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A strong contender MacIntyre covers territory somewhat familiar to those who have read the works of his fellow Cape Breton scribes such as Alistair McLeod, Daniel Doucet or Beatrice MacNeil. Where this work held me most is in its straight forward sense of research and point of fact style. Though these are the marks of a very good journalist, I felt The Bishop's Man suffered at times by coasting on the cache of its setting and lacks a sense of McLeod's intuitive insight, Doucet's playful compassion or MacNeil's fondness for the bizarre.
Date published: 2009-11-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Bishops Man by Linden Mcintyre I liked the book, but I found it lacking some depth to really be a great book. I thought there would be more substance in it about the abuse in the Priesthood. It left me feeling I'd maybe missed something about the story but I know I didn't.
Date published: 2009-10-29

– More About This Product –

The Bishop's Man

by Linden Macintyre

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 416 pages, 9.3 × 6.5 × 1.35 in

Published: July 21, 2011

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307357066

ISBN - 13: 9780307357069

About the Book

From an award-winning writer and one of Canada's foremost broadcast journalists, comes a deeply wise and moving novel that explores the guilty minds and spiritual evasions of Catholic priests.
Father Duncan MacAskill has spent most of his priesthood as the "Exorcist" -- an enforcer employed by his bishop to discipline wayward priests and suppress potential scandal. He knows all the devious ways that lonely priests persuade themselves that their needs trump their vows, but he's about to be sorely tested himself. While sequestered by his bishop in a small rural parish to avoid an impending public controversy, Duncan must confront the consequences of past cover-ups and the suppression of his own human needs. Pushed to the breaking point by loneliness, tragedy and sudden self-knowledge, Duncan discovers how hidden obsessions and guilty secrets either find their way to the light of understanding, or poison any chance we have for love and spiritual peace.

Read from the Book

{ 1 } The night before things started to become unstuck, I actually spent a good hour taking stock of my general situation and concluded that, all things considered, I was in pretty good shape. I was approaching the age of fifty, a psychological threshold only slightly less daunting than death, and found myself not much changed from forty or even thirty. If anything, I was healthier. The last decade of the century, and of the millennium, was shaping up to be less stressful than the eighth — which had been defined by certain events in Central America — and the ninth, burdened as it was by scandals here at home. I was a priest in a time that is not especially convivial toward the clergy. I had, nevertheless, achieved what I believed to be a sustainable spirituality and an ability to elaborate upon it with minimal cant and hypocrisy. I had even, and this is no small achievement, come to terms with a certain sordid obscurity about my family origins in a place where people celebrate the most tedious details of their personal ancestry. I am the son of a bastard father. My mother was a foreigner, felled long before her time by disappointment and tuberculosis. I was, in the most literal sense, a child of war. I’ve calculated that my conception occurred just days before my father’s unit embarked from England for the hostile shores of Italy, on October 23, 1943. There is among his papers a cryptic reference to a summary trial and fine (five days’ pay) for
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From the Publisher

Something about the boat, perhaps its name, and the posture of that boy caused me to defer my anxieties for the moment. It was so rare to see someone that age stationary, somber. I was more accustomed to a rowdy adolescent enthusiasm. This young man, I realized, was exceptional only because of time and place. Maybe any one of them in those circumstances would have been the same. Quiet. But he caught my attention nevertheless and linked the moment to tender places in the memory. Doomed boys and men: in retrospect they all have that stillness.
--from The Bishop’s Man by Linden MacIntyre
 
The year is 1993 and Father Duncan MacAskill stands at a small Cape Breton fishing harbour a few miles from where he grew up. Enjoying the timeless sight of a father and son piloting a boat, Duncan takes a moment’s rest from his worries. But he does not yet know that his already strained faith is about to be tested by his interactions with a troubled boy, 18-year-old Danny MacKay.
 
Known to fellow priests as the “Exorcist” because of his special role as clean-up man for the Bishop of Antigonish, Duncan has a talent for coolly reassigning deviant priests while ensuring minimal fuss from victims and their families. It has been a lonely vocation, but Duncan is generally satisfied that his work is a necessary defense of the church. All this changes when lawyers and a policeman snoop too close for the bishop’s comfort. Duncan is assigned a parish in the remote Cape Breton community of Creignish and told to wait it out.
 
This is not the first time Duncan has been sent away for knowing too much: decades ago, the displeased bishop sent a more idealistic Duncan to Honduras for voicing suspicions about a revered priest. It was there that Duncan first tasted forbidden love, with the beautiful Jacinta. It was also there that he met the courageous Father Alfonso, who taught him more about spiritual devotion than he had ever known back home. But when an act of violence in Honduras shook Duncan to his core, he returned home a changed man, willing to quietly execute the bishop’s commands.
 
Now, decades later in Cape Breton, Duncan claims to his concerned sister Effie that isolation is his preference. But when several women seek to befriend him, along with some long-estranged friends, Duncan is alternately tempted and unnerved by their attentions. Drink becomes his only solace.
 
Attempting to distract himself with parish work, Duncan takes an interest in troubled young Danny, whose good-hearted father sells Duncan a boat he names The Jacinta. To Duncan’s alarm, he discovers that the boy once spent time with an errant priest who had been dispatched by Duncan himself to Port Hood. Duncan begins to ask questions, dreading the answers. When tragedy strikes, he knows that he must act. But will his actions be those of a good priest, or an all too flawed man?
 
Winner of the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Linden MacIntyre’s searing The Bishop’s Man is an unforgettable and complex character study of a deeply conflicted man at the precipice of his life. Can we ever be certain of an individual’s guilt or innocence? Is violence ever justified? Can any act of contrition redeem our own complicity?

From the Jacket

Praise for Linden MacIntyre:

“MacIntyre isn’t just another face and larynx from television [but] an honest-to-God writer…”
— Winnipeg Free Press

“MacIntyre is a fine writer.”
— Alistair MacLeod

About the Author

Linden MacIntyre is one of Canada’s most distinguished broadcast journalists. The winner of nine Gemini Awards, he is the co-host of CBC Television’s the fifth estate and has been involved in the production of documentaries and stories from all over the world. Born in St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, MacIntyre grew up in Port Hastings, Cape Breton. He now lives in Toronto with his wife, fellow journalist Carol Off.
 
In 1999, MacIntyre published The Long Stretch, to tremendous critical acclaim. This first novel was shortlisted for the Dartmouth Book Award as well as the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award.
 
MacIntyre’s 2006 memoir Causeway: A Passage from Innocence detailed his rural Cape Breton childhood. It earned him both the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the Evelyn Richardson Prize for Non-Fiction. 
 
Published in 2009, The Bishop’s Man was awarded Canada’s top fiction honour, the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Editorial Reviews

“The Bishop’s Man centres on a sensitive topic — the sexual abuses perpetrated by Catholic priests on the innocent children in their care. Father Duncan, the first person narrator, has been his bishop''s dutiful enforcer, employed to check the excesses of priests and, crucially, to suppress the evidence. But as events veer out of control, he is forced into painful self-knowledge as family, community and friendship are torn apart under the strain of suspicion, obsession and guilt. A brave novel, conceived and written with impressive delicacy and understanding.”
— Statement by Jury, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, 2009

"A novel with the ring of truth.... The Bishop''s Man is perhaps as close as we will get to eavesdropping on the private conversations we were never meant to hear among clergy or between clergy and ''complainers.''"
— The Gazette

"Engrossing...a serious examination of the theme [the sexual abuse of children] with the page-turning energy of a thriller."
— The Globe and Mail


Praise for Linden MacIntyre:

“MacIntyre isn’t just another face and larynx from television [but] an honest-to-God writer…”
— Winnipeg Free Press

“MacIntyre is a fine writer.”
— Alistair MacLeod

Bookclub Guide

1. What techniques does MacIntyre use to build suspense? Consider, for example, the opening phrase “The night before things started to become unstuck . . . ” How does MacIntyre’s use of foreshadowing and flashbacks affect your experience of the novel?

2. Discuss the various forms of isolation in the novel. How does isolation impact Duncan’s life? Is it something he dislikes, or craves? Why?

3. Discuss the impact of suicide on the community of Creignish, across generations. How has Duncan been affected by his own interactions with suicide?

4. Years ago Duncan trained himself to ignore the protests of errant priests. “Accuse the accuser, one of their best tactics,” he notes (p. 133). What drives Duncan to face his own transgressions? What are your thoughts on his romantic alliances? What is your opinion on the issue of celibacy in the priesthood?

5. At Braecrest, Dr. Shaw observes that Duncan''s father, his “young woman” and his priesthood occupy the same place in his memory, a place of "despair neutralized by hope" (p. 342). Do you think this is an accurate assessment? What are the sources of despair, and hope, in Duncan’s life?

6. Duncan wonders, “So many of these priests are clever, funny men. The freaks are so rare. But they''re the only ones I really know. How have I managed to spend twenty-seven years in this ministry and known only the bad ones? Why have I never been part of the wider community of funny, clever and perhaps even holy men? What is it that draws me to the tragic and the flawed?” (p. 264). How would you answer these questions? Could Duncan have found a different role in the church? Could his gifts have been put to better use?

7. Duncan opens Book Three by describing “the day my life began assuming what I expect will be its final shape.” After meeting a police officer, he momentarily considers Alfonso’s teachings about contrition, before listening to another unnamed voice in his head (p. 207). What do you think of Alfonso’s assertion that true contrition must be an act that results in positive change? How would things have been different if Duncan had heeded Alfonso’s words that day? Did he miss other opportunities? Where does the other voice come from?

8. Discuss the behaviour of fathers in the novel, both biological and within the clergy. How do they leave their mark? What about the women of Creignish?

9. Discuss the strategies Effie and Duncan each developed as a means of surviving their dysfunctional childhoods. How are they the same? How different?

10. Discuss the role alcohol plays in the community of Creignish, and in Duncan’s life. What is it that finally gives him the strength to stop drinking? Do you think he will stay sober?

11. “The phone aroused me on that Monday morning in Port Hood and launched the narrative that I must now, with some reluctance, share” (p. 5). Who do you suppose Duncan intends as his audience? Do you always trust his words? Does your opinion of his reliability change at any point as you read? What is your opinion of Duncan, overall?

12. In their final conversation, Jude warns Duncan that "There''s no morality in an institution. It''s just a thing" (p. 354). Do you agree?

13. What do you think of Duncan’s gatekeeper role? Would you say that he was complicit in a cover up? Or is he absolved because he was following orders? Do other factors mitigate his responsibility?

14. Could this novel still work if Duncan were a teacher, soldier or politician?

15. How do you feel about the novel’s ending? What is your opinion of Duncan’s actions near the end? Does he go far enough? Where do you think his life will take him?

16. Consider the passages MacIntyre uses as epigraphs to each of the four books in the novel. What is the significance of each?

17. This novel is a work of fiction that could be described as “ripped from the headlines.” How would you compare the experience of reading this novel with that of reading news reports? What are the pros and cons of each format?

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