This is a rather extraordinary novel. Simultaneously a page-turner, legal thriller, memoir, and devastating screed against the Catholic Church's bumbling of the pedophile scandal, it reflects the authors own journey from Catholic adherent to disgusted and scandalized ex-Catholic. It's an examination of the fall of what Marcia Hamilton calls "the Pollyanna Years*" when we all believed religious organizations could only be instruments for good. Now, of course, we know they often confuse evil and good.
My guess is that this book is thinly disguised fact masquerading as fiction. The author, Ray Mouton, was the lawyer hired by the Diocese of Lafayette in 1984 to defend "the serial pedophile Fr Gilbert Gauthe, a priest who insisted that every sexual act he committed on the young boys was enjoyed by them and symbolic of his love for them.
Some caveats: 1. the meditation between Sasha and her grandfather on the nature of heaven and hell is superfluous to the story and totally unnecessary. 2. Renon Chattelrault's actions as a lawyer seem bizarre. Yes, he's charged with defending a pedophile priest and trying to get the best deal for him, but his motivations become less than pure as he forms a triumvirate with a psychiatrist priest and a nun to force the Church (totally bent on preventing any kind of negative publicity to the church) to face a reality of the epidemic of priestly pedophilia. A more accomplished author would have better woven this part of the story into the general fabric of the book.
It's very dark, southern gothic. Be prepared to stay up nights. If the truth is half as bad as Moulton portrays it to be, the Catholic Church should be run out of business (a word I use advisedly.)
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