Saturday, 30 June 2001

Catherine Fox: Love For the Lost (2000)

Edition: Penguin, 2000
Review number: 854

Catherine Fox's third novel takes a minor character from The Benefits of Passion and puts her centre stage. Isobel was one of the ordinands in the same class as Annie Brown, and now she is a curate herself. The novel follows her through two years at this post, as she learns a lot about herself and those around her.

The tone of Love For the Lost is darker than Fox's earlier novels; it continues to combine humour and drama, but the balance is rather further toward the dramatic. The novel is also more theological in character, in keeping with a central character professionally involved in Christian ministry rather than studying. This would probably make it less likely to appeal to non-Christians who haven't read the earlier novels, but it is well worth seeking out.

The main criticism I would have of this novel is that there is too much coincidence in the characters' relationships. Previously unacquainted people turn out to have several friends in common, something which is very unlikely (even if a friend of my wife's is married to someone I knew as a student). It is a bit annoying that this keeps on happening, and in most cases it is not at all necessary. Other than momentary irritation, it doesn't greatly detract from an enjoyable novel.

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