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Author: Lawrence Scott
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rights: World English
Pub. Date: 1st August 1998
Winner of a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book
Robert de la Borde comes to England in the 1980`s from the Caribbean after hearing that his brother, Jean Marc, has died. In Bristol, his brother`s journals prompt Robert to visit Ashton Park Monastery, which Jean Marc entered in the 1960`s as Brother Aelred.
There, with the help of his brother`s monastic friend Benedict, Robert pieces together Jean Marc`s life; his exuberance, his mental suffering, and his struggle to balance his sexual impulses with his love of God, as set out in the work of Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship, against the austerity of Catholic sexual morality. In his understanding, Robert also learns what connects Jean Marc to Jordan, the African slave-boy captive at Ashton Park during the eighteenth century.
As Robert is forced to question his inherited prejudices and to confront another ghost of Jean Marc`s childhood - the events concerning Ted Salter - what unfolds is a story about the triumph of compassion over brutality. Moving from present to past, from cruelty to sympathy, Aelred`s Sin is a powerful new novel of erotic love, spiritual awakening and above all, reconciliation.
'"Aelred's Sin" is a book to be read by anyone who is seeking to grow in maturity, understanding and compassion. It is a beautifully written book that takes us into the world of the homosexual nature of a young boy who enters a Benedictine Monestary in search for God and for wholeness. He thinks that he can leave his homosexual nature behind on a small island where he has left the love and security of a close family and the culture of a Caribbean island. Of course, he discovers, as we all do, that no matter what our vocation..whether marriage or celebacy..our personalities go with us. It is a book that belongs to this time. It causes us to reflect on how obsessive we allow our sexual natures to become, how hypocritical society can be..in what it accepts and does not accept..and the high price homosexuals pay for their sexuality. "Aelred's Sin" is a deeply spiritual book. We are forced to consider that in order to give away something, we must first own it. It made me realize that the gift of celebacy is not a gift that should be taken lightly..it is a gift, received from God, that must be returned to God anew every day of a priest's life. Aelred gives his life in the search for wholeness.'Anon
'This book has an absorbing story and a moving ending. I was, however, a bit disappointed with the way the story was structured and irritated by the significant number of typing errors. Also, I often thought, as I read the text, that many of the characters I encountered were two dimensional. The constant move between past and present in alternative chapters often did not work, though it did work with great affect in some instances, particularly with Aelred's tragic relationship with Ted. Where I think the story does work well, though, is in its depiction of Aelred's internal struggles. Overall, I think that this book is worth reading, but it does not deserve five stars.'D. J. Williams
'This is a finely crafted study in the tensions that arise between love for another person and the love of God. Aelred is a young man who wants to devote his life to the God that he yearns to worship and serve. Yet he is forced by religious authorities and tradition to deny his other need, and that is to love and be loved by another human being. The fact that this 'other person' is also an initiate in the monastery where Aelred has come to test his calling, adds to his confusion. Lawrence Scott's book reaches to the heart of the problem, without trying to offer any trite answers or easy solutions. It is an honest and most moving portrayal of homosexual love and the pain and delight of finding love with another human being. I discovered this book quite by accident, but feel that somehow I was meant to read it. As a Minister of religion, of a denomination currently grappling with this issue of human sexuality, I found Aelred's Sin to be amongst the most moving and thought provoking novels I have read for a long time. I most heartily recommend it. You will not be disapointed.'Anonymous
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