The Gospel of Eve Rachel Mann (DLT 2020)

The Gospel of Eve Rachel Mann (DLT 2020)

So the rain pours (and pours) in Salisbury and what better escape than to read the fabulous writer Rachel Mann. Two declared spoilers as I offer this review – first I am a great admirer of Rachel. She is a wonderful writer and teacher and at Sarum College we are delighted that she is one of our Visiting Scholars. Second I didn’t devour the book in one go but rather like a luscious box of chocolates took a bite at a time preferring to savour the taste and artistry of each chapter as the tale unfolded.

So here is the scaffolding of the tale. Littlemore College sits just outside Oxford and its task is to train priests. We are taken inside its doors and relationships as passion, heartfulness, humanity, devotion and learning that combine to form prayer and people. Bright, edgy, fragile personalities gather around Professor Albertus Loewe, Medievalist and with a compelling wit used to inspire and enlarge horizons in surprising ways !

Catherine Bolton arrives with her PhD in Chaucer and the Church and with her friend Evie Kirkland they connect with Lowes group with unexpected consequences. A story brilliantly told with a delicious eye for detail and human nature. Rachel investigates the human heart and our contradictions with meticulous care and kindness. The reader can feel safe as they are drawn into this story which is partly also ours. Love, vocation, death, family, deception, gender, obsession, learning, weakness and sex shape the games we play especially in and with religion. Rachel draws her reader into a dialogue of self discovery and I promise you will uncover some surprises about what it might mean to flourish as we are honest about our needs and desire.

This book doesn’t give up on faith as many have but invites us into a more generative relationship with a faith that is both honest and imaginative. And if you think I paint a picture that is simply too serious – I guarantee the glorious turns of phrase and observations about them (and us) will warm your journey through the book.

It is brilliant and you will not be disappointed. Thank you Rachel and now how long must we wait for the next adventure ?

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