cover image The Abbey

The Abbey

James Martin. HarperOne, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-240186-1

Popular Jesuit author (Jesus: A Pilgrimage) and media commentator Martin turns to fiction in this warmly comforting tale of a grieving mother who owns a building but has no day-to-day job, a dissatisfied handyman, and an abbot, whose lives come to intersect and are gently changed. Three years after the death of her teenage son in an accident, Anne is stuck in grief. Her tenant Mark works as handyman at an abbey, feeling underemployed and lonely. Father Paul heads the abbey and wonders if he should be an abbot. Anne, whose father once worked for the abbey, is drawn to it after a car breakdown brings her back to the place she visited when a child. Martin offers a simple story about complicated people whose lives need God for direction and healing. His skill as a novelist is fair; the plot is thin but the characters are well drawn. His real strength is his pastoral sensibility—his compassion shines through the character of Father Paul. Like his fellow Jesuit Pope Francis, Martin is a persuasive evangelizer for a God, and church, of mercy. (Oct.)