The Benefits of Passion
Yet Annie can no more control her characters than she could a congregation. Outrageous Isabella and butter-wouldn’t-melt Barney hurtle unbidden into difficult situations that lead Annie inexorably back to her own repressed upbringing and present predicament. Some of their liberation rubs off on her too, and when she meets brusque outsider Will, Annie plunges into passion as uninhibitedly as Isabella.
But Annie’s vocation, like her libido, won’t lie down, and she despairs of finding a happy ending to either of her stories . . .
A delightful novel: funny, life-enhancing and humane . . . Above all, she displays a genuine ability to make religion palatable for a secular age. Forget The Rector’s Wife [Joanna Trollope’s bestselling 1992 novel], this is the real thing.
She has again succeeded in creating a cast of compelling characters (some of whom made their first appearance in Angels and Men), whose fate one becomes anxious to discover.
Catherine Fox has written at least five novels and an additional autobiography Fight the Good Fight, which is an entertaining history of her life growing up and being a young mother, a martial arts aficionado and being married to a man working in the Church of England.
Catherine, a popular former columnist on this newspaper, studied English at Durham and went on to get a PhD in Theology. She is a writer who can pack each and every paragraph with vivid description, and in this novel, humour and action together with quite often a touch of romance, and if not romance, then lust! I feel sure that other diarists in the past on reading Catherine’s column in our paper must have had a twinge of envy that she could be so spontaneous, rib-ticklingly funny and original.
This book is told almost wholeheartedly from the female viewpoint, though making room for the male reader to “get in” with the story. The female characters are feisty and have a definite tendency to be totally “nymphomaniacal” in their attitudes towards the male characters, most definitely to the point of farce. What tends to be frustrating about the storyline is that closure to a lot of these scenes of the female characters lusting after their hearts’ desire leads quite often to a totally no-win situation where the female characters are infuriatingly rebuffed by controlling, heterosexual behaviour by the male counterparts. However, the scenarios and dialogue are hilarious.
Are we really bothered whether one of our heroines succeeds in working in the church? Well, we are certainly informed that she is totally fallible where her ability to fall for men is concerned, and about her own private examining as to whether she is up to the job emotionally, as passages are devoted to her own personal self-examination in the bigger picture with God on board. In effect this gives the reader a sense of distance between humans and God and the church is sandwiched in between containing “mere mortals” with their own idiosyncratic flaws and failures.
What is the purpose of writing a book where the girls are full of uncontrollable lust and the guys are more restraining and controlling? It is hilariously funny and descriptive, and it could be a solace and a reassurance to lusty ladies that men are good sorts and are capable of not only controlling their sexual urges but also or restraining themselves from “going all the way” with passionate amours.