A finely crafted story of a young priest’s crisis of faith (and love) is the latest success from novelist (and ex-priest) L’Heureux (Having Everything, 1999, etc.).
Anybody who was ordained in the 1960s faced pretty stiff casualty rates from the start, and Father LeBlanc—idealistic, intellectual, liberal, and more than a tad naive—is the sort who is bound to find Church life hard going at the best of times. Assigned as the curate to a large working-class parish in South Boston, he alienates his superiors (and not a few of his parishioners) by preaching and counseling against the Vietnam War, segregated schools, and the pope’s condemnation of birth control. Reassigned to a small parish in an out-of-the-way resort town in New Hampshire, he is forced to cultivate the virtue of solitude as well as humility. His pastor, Father Moriarity, is an invalid dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, lovingly tended by Rose, the parish housekeeper. Rose’s teenaged daughter Mandy is somewhat wild in the manner of teenaged girls, and one day she overdoses on cocaine. Pronounced dead by the doctor, she regains consciousness after Rose prays over her. A miracle? Just good fortune? Father LeBlanc (who was present at the scene) is in no doubt whatever and becomes more and more obsessed with Rose, whom he believes to be a saint. Around the same time, Annaka (a somewhat disturbed woman from the parish) develops an obsession of her own—with Father LeBlanc. Eventually, Father LeBlanc gets himself into trouble with both Rose and Annaka, and the miracle turns out to be much more problematic than it first appeared. Father LeBlanc has to decide whether he should remain a priest—and what he wants to do if he leaves—and, more importantly, whether he still believes in God.
Deeply moving and personal, told with restraint and great skill.