The privations of Lent coupled with cold rainy weather sets the scene for Penelope Wilcock's sequel to The Hawk and the Dove. The monks long for spring and the return of Father John, the newly elected abbot. Rejoicing follows John's return, but is quickly replaced by dissension and bitterness when an old enemy seeks refuge at St. Alcuin's. The brothers are stressed during this time, each faced by “the hardest thing to do.”
Wilcock has an excellent understanding of the strains of group living particularly when times are difficult. Although the brothers are sworn to the service of Jesus, several find it hard to act as the Lord would act. The way the community struggles with it's problems and finally comes to an inspirational conclusion on Easter is a heartwarming story.
I highly recommend this book. Although the novel is set in a medieval monastery, it has lessons for all of us living in groups whether they are religious groups, social groups, or families. The book has an obviously Christian background, but I believe it is a book for everyone. It's a book I will keep on my shelves. I had not read The Hawk and the Dove, but I'm now inspired to do so.
I reviewed this book at the invitation of Crossway.