A History of Loneliness

Farrar. Feb. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780374171339. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374713027. F
Chaplain at a Dublin boys' school since his ordination, Fr. Odran Yates lives an uncomplicated life. He never doubts his vocation and remains removed from the politics of parish ministry and church administration. After 28 years of quiet stability, however, Yates is forced by the archbishop to take a parish position, substituting for a priest accused of long-term, systematic sexual abuse. The accused cleric himself recommends Yates as his replacement because they were seminary roommates. The tale Yates narrates is a chilling confession of years of emotional distance and self-delusion. In the end, he recognizes a path to some sort of redemption, but will he take it?
VERDICT Best known for the YA novel The Boy in Striped Pajamas, Boyne here offers his eighth novel for adults and the first set in his native Ireland. In the person of Father Yates, he unsparingly explores a devastating subject: how the negligence and complicity of clergy and parishioners in Ireland have facilitated sex-scandal cover-ups and misinformation overseen from the highest levels of the Catholic Church. The result reads like a modern existential fable, raising questions that will remain with readers long after they put it down. [See Prepub Alert, 8/11/14.]
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