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Vessel of Dishonor treats of that ""getting to be over-worked"" theme -- the priest who loses his vocation. But this provocative novel deviates considerably from the standard formula ""priest falls; priest repents; priest's forgiven"". When Father Martin Haver wrestles with temptation -- temptation wins. Paul Roche has written an engrossing though certainly strange story. Handsome, charming Martin Haversham is ready for ordination to the subdinconate at an English seminary when the book opens. In a flash back he relives a recent love affair with an American girl, Vanessa Mac Cuers, during a vacation in Italy. Martin's spiritual adviser and confessor convinces him that it was only the devil's ""last-ditch"" effort to keep him from the priesthood, and counsels him not to give up his vocation as he had thought he must. So he goes on to ordination, and finds his first year as a priest filled with ""constant and holy excitation"". Only occasionally does he ask himself if ""pleasure and beauty had perhaps been the prime motives in his ascent to the priesthood"". The reader can't help but wonder why it took him so long to puzzle that out, since it's been apparent all along that Martin had no vocation. An affair with a girl in war-time London follows. And as one might expect Martin meets Vancssa again on a ship en-route to New York where he's been sent for ""spiritual rehabilitation"". What follows in inevitable in his new life with Vanessa, Martin ponders that ""the memory of what he was, what he had failed to be, would always temper his happiness"". Catholic readers are bound to feel ""and well it should"". This novel may turn out to be one of the most controversial of the season, but the message it is meant to convey is certainly questionable.

Publisher: Sheed & Ward