Ann Patchett found an old musty copy of this out-of-print novel in a used bookstore and after reading it, worked her prowess to bring it back to print. Oh, what a gift she has given us. Jeanette Haien wrote this Irish novel in the 1980s as her debut. The story seems deceptively simple, but has a lasting power and resonance of myth. Opening with a scene of a Catholic Priest fishing in horrible weather conditions, we learn quickly that Father Declan’s sporty endeavor was spurred by a confession by one of his parishioners the day before. After the death of her husband, Edna confesses to Father Declan the “all of it” and reveals a secret that goes back 50 years. Edna’s story puts Father Declan in a crisis of empathy versus absolution, and the resolution of his conflict is what gives this book it’s lasting power.— S.M.C.
Jeannette Haien’s award-winning first novel relates the seemingly simple tale of a parishioner confiding in her priest, but the tangled confession brings secrets to light that provoke a moral quandary for not only the clergyman, but the reader as well. Set in a small town in Ireland, Haien’s intimate novel of conversations and dilemmas—perfect for readers of Paul Harding’s Tinkers, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, and Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood—is “an elegantly written, compact and often subtle tale ofmorality and passion that gives voice to an age-old concern in a fresh way” (NewYork Times Book Review). Harper Perennial breathes new life into this 1986 classic in a new edition with an introduction by Ann Patchett.