I recently finished reading Penelope Wilcock’s book, The Long Fall. It’s the third book in The Hawk and the Dove series, and the conclusion to its original trilogy. (The trilogy was later expanded to a series of nine). These books were recommended to me by my friend Jason and purchased for me as a birthday gift from my parents. So I already treasure them for those reasons. But I’ve also found so much joy and meaning in these stories about a group of men living in a Benedictine monastery in 14th Century Yorkshire. I know; the setting sounds like it would be esoteric and unappealing. Yet somehow it resonates strongly with my life in 21st Century Ohio.
In The Long Fall, the action of the story is even more zoomed in than it was in The Wounds of God (Book Two in the Trilogy). It focuses almost entirely on two characters: Brother Thomas and Father Peregrine. And it would seem that all of the events in the book supposedly happened within the space of a single year. So it’s a much more intimate, more drawn-out story of these two men and their relationship with each other. I really enjoyed the brief episodes and character sketches in the first book in the series. But this third book in the series is lovely in its own way.
The power of this book comes in its depiction of human frailty. I don’t want to give away too much. (I hope that others reading this might decide to follow my strong recommendation to read the series). But Brother Thomas and Father Peregrine provide a powerful example of living with limitations. Physical limitations… emotional limitations… relational limitations… spiritual limitations… They struggle on so many different levels, but still they persevere. They walk by faith. Brother Thomas and Father Peregrine learn to love each other (to the point that another member of their brotherhood wonders about their vow of chastity). And they learn to love God.
I expect this is a book I will come back to in the future. Even though its characters are entirely fictional, their portrayals of human emotion are very real. To the point that this work of fiction might even be truer than many works of non-fiction. I highly recommend this book and this series. And now that we’ve officially transitioned into the summer season, I’m eager to keep reading the rest of the series.