"From the moment he allows his young cousin and bride to spend the night in his room, Father Maitland causes raised eyebrows and dark mutterings amongst the brothers at St Peter's.
"Time and again his efforts to do the right thing for his fellow men lead him into conflict with his superiors and the immutable laws of the church - a conflict which ultimately threatens to destroy him both as a priest and as a man..."
"Very funny indeed: the rather awful comedy inherent in a priest's life, especially a post-conciliar priest's life." - Graham Greene
"His book is infused with a pawky clerical awareness that human life, though sometimes capable of holiness, is often merely funny." - Time
"Keneally's novel about a doubting priest is rich in unexpected visions and sudden epiphanies. He writes like an angel." - New York Times Book Review
On Saturday evening, Maitland had to say Mass on a headland for a guild of graduates. The occasion had been arranged in the heat of early March, but on the afternoon itself dusk was all cold light and fierce winds. The altar cloths had to be tacked down, a truck had to be driven to the weather side of the altar lest the chalice and chalice veils blow away. The Mass proceeded under a sky dark as plums. The sea raced in obliquely, breaking on his left, and wraiths of spray infested the hill. He enjoyed the occasion and was happy when turning to speak to these people who half-lay to hear him. They reclined on rugs and ground-sheets as if they might well be preparing to drink coffee from a thermos or make love. This somehow gave him the sense that what he performed had an affinity to the earth and the elements and the blood. So that, for the first time since coming home at Christmas, he did not feel an alien.
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1984.
This novel won the 1968 Miles Franklin Award.
The only other mention I can find of the novel on the Web is its listing on what's titled the Guilt List of Books You Should Read which is described as: "This is a list that's produced by an English professor at San Jose State University in California. It is a list of books that one is supposed to have read before receiving his/her BA in English degree. For many English majors, they don't even have l/lOth of the books listed under their belts before graduation hence the 'guilt' aspect of it.."
This page and its contents are copyright © 1995-2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Thomas Keneally page.
Last modified: March 26, 2001.