Publisher: Pantolwen Press
Format: Ebook, Paperback (20 October 2023)
Second Book of The Isle Fincara Trilogy
Awarded a Literary Book Grant by the Books Council of Wales.
The Priest’s Wife is set on an imaginary island, somewhere between Scotland and Ireland, a thousand years ago and a world away. When her husband the priest dies, Morag loses more than her life partner. With him goes her home and her place in the community. In addition to these misfortunes, in a society that sets great store by lineage, she is challenged about the mysterious identity of her mother, and it is this that sets her on a quest of discovery that comes, at first, upon a blank, but in time leads her to the circle of the island’s ‘Guardians’, who mediate her discovery of her mother’s identity, and, step by step, her own deeper self-knowing and self-acceptance.
When Aidan, the new priest, undertakes a campaign to upturn the township’s spirituality, which has accommodated older druidical forms alongside the Christ story, both he and the community are set on a collision course. As tension builds the shareg (headman) of the town, must intervene. Finding no way through that conforms to the norms of his world, he must take a radical and unconventional step.
The book explores mental breakdown (Aidan’s) and severe depression (Morag’s, at the mid-point of the story when she finds herself at an impasse). It reflects religious tensions that have existed historically. It celebrates the natural world and the resilience of the human spirit in resisting a coercive authority. In doing so, Morag steps into her full personhood.
‘In The Priest’s Wife I wanted to explore the struggle between nature-affirming and nature-denying world views which I believe will strike a chord with the present awareness of the precariousness of the course humanity has set in seeking to control nature’ – A.G. RIVETT
My thanks to Helen Richardson for the blog tour invitation. For my turn today on the tour, I’m pleased to share an extract of The Priest’s Wife.
Bad news, they say, like bad weather, always comes from the east. The storms that drive in from the north-west across the wide cold sea they know and understand, and wait quietly for them to pass. It’s the east wind they fear, that in winter brings biting frost that hardens the soft snow and kills the young lambs, or in summer brings drought that can dry even the bogs of Talor Gan and leave the flocks panting with thirst. It’s the east wind drives the fishing boats away from the shore, and the men must row hard to reach home. Some never make it.
It was along the east road that Gormagh came. And only three weeks after the sun-darkening. But surely, Morag thought, the lords and ladies of the heavens could not be so concerned about this little corner of the round world that Atain, Lady of the Sun, had hidden her face from them just to presage the arrival of such a one as he. Something much wider must be afoot, of which his coming was only a sign, a portent.
Her adopted son, Dhion, used one of his clipped foreign words. He said that the moon had come between them and the sun. It was still strange to hear him talking like that, as if sun and moon, Atain and her little brother, were no more than things, impersonal lumps. But after only three years with them, and some thirty, he’d said, before, she supposed she must excuse him.
Andrew (A.G.) Rivett was born in London. His first degree was in medicine, and he edited the medical school Gazette. He then practised in hospital medicine in London, and in a leprosy hospital in rural northern Nigeria.
In 1987 he was ordained into the stipendiary ministry of the Church of England, but after 12 years returned to medicine as a public health doctor in Southampton. During this time, he became a member of a writers’ circle and wrote a collection of short stories.
Taking early retirement in 2006, he set off for Scotland, working variously as a handyman in a retreat centre, a farm hand on an organic farm, and writing and teaching an access course on microbiology for Moray College. It was in Scotland that he met his second wife, Gillian Paschkes-Bell. He moved to her home in the spiritual eco- community at Findhorn before finding his own croft on the off-grid Scoraig peninsula, on the lands of his Mackenzie ancestors. While living in Scotland, he and Gillian experienced and learned about Celtic spirituality through the ancient tradition of the Céile Dé. Andrew has three daughters, and two grandsons.
After he had completed the first draft of The Seaborne, Gillian became Andrew’s editor, working with him collaboratively to arrive at the published form – a role she has retained with The Priest’s Wife. They now live in Ceredigion, West Wales, on land that once belonged to Gillian’s mother and which they are cultivating as a wildflower meadow.
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