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The Priest's Tale - Père Etienne   By: (1887-1927)

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Robert Keable's novel, The Priest's Tale - Père Etienne, takes readers on a profound and thought-provoking journey through the life of its complex protagonist, Father Etienne. Set against the backdrop of war-torn France in the early 20th century, this book skillfully delves into the internal struggles faced by a man of the cloth, grappling with his own desires and the expectations placed upon him.

From the very beginning, Keable's masterful storytelling pulls readers into the depths of Father Etienne's psyche. The author's vivid descriptions and attention to detail paint a vivid picture of the protagonist's world, allowing readers to feel fully immersed in the period setting. Whether it's the solemn solitude of the church or the chaotic trenches of World War I, Keable captures the essence of each environment flawlessly.

What truly sets The Priest's Tale - Père Etienne apart is the exploration of Father Etienne's inner turmoil. As the story progresses, readers witness his struggles with faith, doubt, and temptation. Keable seamlessly weaves in philosophical and theological discussions, questioning the nature of morality and the complexities of human desire. Through Father Etienne's experiences, the author invites us to reflect on our own beliefs and challenges us to confront the intricacies of the human condition.

The characterization in this novel is exceptional. Father Etienne is a deeply flawed yet profoundly relatable protagonist, and his interactions with the various supporting characters are both engaging and revealing. Each individual has their own intricate storyline, adding layers of depth and intrigue to the narrative. Keable's attention to character development ensures that none of them feel one-dimensional, allowing readers to form a personal connection with each and every one.

Another commendable aspect of this book is Keable's ability to address sensitive topics such as sexuality within the context of the priesthood. The author navigates these themes with grace and respect, presenting a nuanced portrayal of Father Etienne's inner turmoil without resorting to stereotypes or clichés. This balanced approach adds an extra layer of authenticity and credibility to an already compelling and thought-provoking narrative.

However, despite the book's many strengths, there were a few instances where the pacing felt uneven, particularly in the middle section. Some parts could have benefited from tighter editing to maintain the overall momentum. Nevertheless, this does not detract significantly from the overall reading experience.

In conclusion, The Priest's Tale - Père Etienne is a mesmerizing and introspective exploration of faith, desire, and the human experience. Robert Keable's exceptional storytelling and rich characterization make this novel a must-read for those fascinated by the complexities of religion and the struggles of the human spirit. With its immersive setting and thought-provoking themes, this book will leave readers contemplating the boundaries of morality and the nature of existence long after turning the final page.

First Page:


From "The New Decameron" Volume III.

By Robert Keable

PÈRE ETIENNE came aboard at Dares Salaam and did not at once make friends. It was our own fault, however. He neither obtruded nor effaced himself, but rather went quietly on his own way with that recollection which the clerical system of the Catholic Church encourages. We few first class passengers had already settled down into the usual regularities of shipboard life, from the morning constitutional in pyjamas on the boat deck, to the Bridge four after dinner in the smoke room, and, besides, it was plain that Père Etienne was not likely to have much in common with any of us. So we were polite at a distance, like Englishmen everywhere. Even I, who, by virtue of my cloth, might have been supposed to make advances, was shy of beginning. I was young in those days, and for one thing spelt Rome always with a big capital.

But from the first there was something which attracted me to the priest, the more so as it was hard to define. In his appearance there was nothing to suggest interest. His age was round about fifty; his hair brown, though in his beard a white hair or two was to be observed. In his short black coat and trousers he looked neither mediaeval nor a traveller, and his luggage was neither romantically minute nor interestingly large... Continue reading book >>

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