THE SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS
Haunted by the past and tormented by a deepening sense of despair for the future, ageing priest Jack Lowden has been a member of the Society of the Incarnation, a religious order within the Anglican Church, for forty years when he is suddenly called upon to mentor the handsome young Felix, a guest of the Society.
As Felix wrestles with his own sense of vocation and to accept the celibacy that seems to be demanded of him, Jack falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful young visitor. In the claustrophobic and repressed atmosphere of the monastery, Jack attempts to en-mesh Felix in a bizarrely erotic, spiritual pact between the two of them as he desperately tries to cling on to the boy that he cannot and should not have and yet whom he so urgently desires.
Felix finds the reality of deeply passionate love for himself with the dangerously attractive Jonas Carter. It is a love that will save both Felix and Jonas but which will destroy Jack. Confronted with the reality of his life and what it has made him but, most of all, with the final realisation of the impossibility of his love for Felix, Jack descends in to obsession, madness and despair with shattering consequences.
In a stunning debut novel, Tim Bairstow takes us on an unflinching and forensically observed journey in to the darkest recesses of the Church, laying bare the hypocrisy, deceit, self-delusion and damaged lives that lay behind the glittering image.
Set in the 1990’s, most of the action of Tim Bairstow’s brilliant first novel takes place within the walls of ‘The Society of the Incarnation’ a tiny brotherhood of elderly monks living in a vast and wonderfully eerie gothic pile in the wilds of West Yorkshire.
Felix, the hero of the story, is a handsome young Church of England Ordinand who is being fast-tracked into the ministry.
Jack, the aging priest assigned to be his mentor is one of the Brothers of The Society who has already sacrificed his life to his faith.
Both men are gay and struggling to reconcile their longing for love and relationship with the demands of a Church they feel genuinely called to serve.
‘The Shadow of Your Wings’ is a great read. I was drawn into ‘The Society’ and its colourful characters right from the first line. I felt real sympathy for Felix and for Jack; whose full tragic story unfolds and ultimately unravels alongside Felix’s more hopeful one.
There are some heart-wrenchingly moving scenes in the book, along with real humour and a no-holds-barred take on how the homophobic and hypocritical attitude of the Anglican Church warps and damages the lives of its lesbian and gay members.
There are also plenty of really well written sex scenes, a beautifully unfolding love story and a cast of wonderfully realised minor characters ranging from ‘camp-as-a-row-of-tents’ monks to the motley and fascinating in their own right clientele of the local gay sauna.
What more can I say? This book has everything I look for in a novel. I loved it and I’ve been recommending it to all my friends!
Set in the mid nineteen nineties, ‘The Shadow of Your Wings’ is a Yorkshire based novel that follows the story of three very different gay men within the Anglican Church.
For forty years, Father Jack Lowden has been a priest and member of a religious community. When he is called upon to mentor Felix, a handsome young ordinand and the guest of the community, he finds himself falling hopelessly in love. As Jack witnesses Felix struggling with his own sexuality and his attraction to Jonas, the young bursar of the community, he is brought face to face with the stark reality of the loneliness of his own life and the terrible sacrifices he has made to follow his calling.
The novel is fast paced, very well written and shows great insight and compassion in to the struggles of all of the central characters. There are strong central themes of love, sacrifice, sexual and spiritual yearning. It also deals sensitively with the struggle of older people grieving for their lost youth and opportunities both within the church and outside of it.
There are some beautifully written minor characters too, a tender love story, plenty of humour and some steamy sex scenes (literally in one case!)
As the church continues to tear itself apart over the issue of sexuality, this novel is a timely reminder of the toll these attitudes take on gay Christians.
"SHOUT!" Magazine, August 2013
It's a while since I read a book that was difficult to put down. There are some lovely descriptive and atmospheric passages that I enjoyed. The characters and their internal struggles are sensitively described thus gaining sympathy. Overall I think it is a great novel, it moves at a good pace and holds the interest.
Angie - Amazon Review
Very sensitively written makes you really care about the characters, therefore a hard to put down book. Just waiting for the next book.
C J - Amazon Review