Thursday 12 December 2019

Ceremony of Innocence - Dorothy Cummings McLean

Ceremony of Innocence
Dorothy Cummings McLean
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781586177317
eISBN 9781681490847

This was a very interesting story. It was a book that once I started reading, I could hardly put it down. The story surprised me in many ways. It was not what I was expecting, but it is a very powerful narrative. The characters are masterfully written. And the plot is full of twists and surprises. It is very realistic. And honestly parts of it could be taken from news stories. The story deals with some very fallen and flawed characters. And at time it is very disturbing.

Set-in modern-day Germany the story revolves mainly around two women who are Canadian by birth. But the two could not be any different. The story part literary novel, and part crime thriller. One of the women, journalist Catriona McClelland, was born in Canada, raised in Scotland. She writes for a Catholic news organization. And Has written a well received novel. She also happens to be divorced and is awaiting an annulment. She has been deeply wounded and is holding commitment at bay. She is living with a younger man. Who is also Catholic. She attends mass but does not receive communion. His uncle is an Archbishop. And into their live’s flounces Suzy Davis. Davis is young passionate, involved with a protest movement. The story is told going back and recounting events. Society is on the edge of breakdown. Thee are bombings, riots, counter riots, Neo Nazi’s and anifta. The story portrays the social conflict between traditional European culture and radical Islam. It examines what it means to be innocent, complicit or guilty.

After each bombing conflict escalates. Until we have a clearer picture of who is responsible. And we are surprised. The story is in part a reflection on the friendship, looking back after the murder of Suzy. And part confession. And when you throw in an unplanned pregnancy, the part scene, drugs and alcohol the story really does capture much of living in modern society.

The characters are incredibly written. They really are what make the story so powerful and moving. And the narrative is tightly written. The author writing through the perspective of Catriona does an excellent job or portraying inner struggle, realization, and repentance. It is not a traditional Catholic novel with characters living the teachings of the church. But it is a Catholic novel, with Catholic characters struggling with living what they believe, and trying to find their way.

It was a very hard book to put down. And I would definitely give others by the author a try. In some ways it reminds me of Madeline L’Engle’s adult fiction. If you want to read a novel that will not just pass the time, but challenge you and truly cause some deep thinking give this one a try.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Dorothy Cummings McLean:
Ceremony of Innocence
Seraphic Singles: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Single Life
The Closet's All Mine!: From a Seraphic Single


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