Thursday, March 27, 2008

Book Review: The Tremaynes and The Masterful Monk

From time to time, a book comes along that is far more enjoyable than the other nine books I happen to be reading. This book is viewed as a special treat among good books. Hardly a minute flies by without sitting down to continue reading, often working hard to not plow through the book too quickly. Upon closing, the book is set aside with relish and a warm feeling that goes a little beyond mere sentiment.

The Tremaynes and the Masterful Monk is one of these books. Owen Francis Dudley, an Anglican clergyman who converted to become a Roman Catholic Priest, is the author of this and a few others in the series. I have read all but The Coming of the Monster, which I will save for another day. It was my familiarity with the series that created so much anticipation for this book. I had, in fact, saved it for when I needed a good read and had the time to do it relatively quickly.

The Tremaynes and the Masterful Monk continues the story of Father Anselm, a British monk. Some familiarity with the previous titles will help the reader understand the backstory (and there are spoilers for those beginning with this title), but essentially it is a story about a horrible, evil man named Gordon Tremaynes and his encounter with grace. Mr. Tremaynes is a sadist (when this book was written, the idea of sadism was relatively obscure) who has lived his life exacting very intricate tortures upon others, including his younger brother. This younger brother happens to be acquainted with Brother Anselm, who finds himself tangled in the affairs of this family. The first half of the book is more historical, building a background to demonstrate how evil and remorseless Gordon Tremaynes is. The second half of the book is Brother Anselm working with his family to do something to change him. This is a story of God's grace.

Probably the biggest draw to this book, as well as the whole series, is the character of Brother Anselm. This is a man of God that we all wish we knew. He is a living saint, he is brave, he is good and morally sound in such a way as Americans can hardly imagine. He embodies Catholic teaching and decency. He is beloved by his friends and feared by his enemies. He is a manly priest, a concept foreign to many. If you want your boys to look into a vocation, this is the book you should give them.

I picked this book up while a third of the way through Malachi Martin's Vatican, which got set aside for a few days. It took me less than three days to finish it-I was underway at the time-and it was everything I expected it to be. This is an enjoyable read that will spiritually refresh you as well. I give it my highest recommendation-but start with The Shadow on the Earth and read them in order.

Ideology: *****
Content: ***** (Brother Anselm smokes cigarettes, but does not appear to be addicted)
Importance: *****
Insomnia Effect: *****

Total: ***** This book (and series) belongs in EVERY Catholic's house and should be consulted as the model for the manly priesthood that Jesus Christ instituted.

1 comment:

rhud68 said...

Any idea where a copy of this book could be found? I desperately want to read all the Masterful Monk books, and this and the Pageant of Life are the only ones I've not been able to find.