A finalist for the 2014 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
A Globe & Mail best book of 2014
There were plans for an official welcome. It was to take place the following Sunday. But those who came to the rectory on Father Pennant’s second day were the ones who could not resist seeing him sooner. Here was the man to whom they would confess the darkest things. It was important to feel him out. Mrs. Young, for instance, after she had watched him eat a piece of her macaroni pie, quietly asked what he thought of adultery.
André Alexis brings a modern sensibility and a new liveliness to an age-old genre, the pastoral.
For his very first parish, Father Christopher Pennant is sent to the sleepy town of Barrow. With more sheep than people, it is sleepily bucolic – too much Barrow Brew on Barrow Day is the rowdiest it gets. But things aren’t so idyllic for Liz Denny, whose fiancé doesn’t want to choose between Liz and his more worldly lover Jane, or for Father Pennant himself, whose faith is profoundly shaken by the miracles he witnesses – a mayor walking on water, intelligent gypsy moths and a talking sheep.
Praise for Pastoral:
'This novel’s pleasures indeed include a rich sense of place, but that sense comes without sentimentality, and that place is something one might just as easily flee from as call home. Pastoral beauty is certainly on offer, but Alexis’ fluid, evocative descriptions of the rural wonders that surround Barrow are much more than nostalgia for a childhood idyll or mere reverie for reverie’s sake — they constitute the very heart of Pastoral’s unresolved/unresolvable crisis of faith.'
- National Post
'It’s been clear since his debut novel, Childhood, that Alexis is one of our most distinctive and exacting prose stylists, and at its highest pitch, as in the breathtaking final paragraph, these are sentences that attain the level of the best music.'
- Montreal Gazette
Praise for André Alexis’s previous books:
‘Astonishing . . . an irresistible, one-of-a-kind work.’ – Quill & Quire (on Childhood)
‘Alexis [has an] astute understanding of the madly shimmering, beautifully weaving patterns created by what we have agreed to call memory.’ – Ottawa Citizen (on Childhood)