Tags: Altar boy, Elizabeth Mackey, Father Martin Mackey, Irish Catholic, Jennifer Haigh, Kathleen Mackey, Mary Mackey, Tom Mackey
Do you know the author Jennifer Haigh? She has written four novels and her latest, Faith, is a masterpiece. It is a story of an Irish-Catholic Priest-soaked family set mostly in the last decade, a period of the latest greatest embarrassment to the Catholic hierarchy, that of the molestation epidemic. But for all that, Faith is an incredibly touching story of Father Art, his sister Sheila who tells the story, his brother Mike and a mother trying to channel Rose Kennedy with her blinders full on but without Hyannis as a backdrop.
I found Haigh by chance just after her first novel, Mrs. Kimble, came out. As I recall, I liked the book jacket at first and then the book. She tells stories about families and her novels are ‘novel novels’ — if you know what I mean. Reading Faith I followed my time-honored method of reading wonderful novels:
- I begin reading and after a few pages I know that I’ll like the story; I’m hooked and I put the book aside for a day or so.
- I take up the novel and read as if starving for it.
- Just before the end, I put it aside for a few hours or even a day because I don’t want it to be over.
As I began reading Faith I thought of Father Martin, my Father’s uncle who died before I was born and my two maiden aunts and my step-grandmother from Ireland and I thought of growing up as an Altar Boy and the Nuns from Ireland and drinking and though I don’t feel Boston at all, when you grow up so drenched in a religion as I did, there is an irresistible pull to this very sad yet striking story that gets you out of Beantown, past geography and makes you want to make sure that you don’t miss living, as Father Art almost missed it.
It is a story, most of all, of loneliness.