(Review) The Oblate's Confession by William Peak

Publication Date: December 1, 2014.
Publisher: Secant Publishing.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medieval England, Monastic.
Pages: 416.
Source: Free advanced reader copy from William Peak, Secant Publishing, and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

Book tour link:
http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theoblatesconfessionblogtour/

William Peak spent ten years researching and writing The Oblate’s Confession, his debut novel. Based upon the work of one of the great (if less well known) figures of Western European history, the Venerable Bede, Peak’s book is meant to reawaken an interest in that lost and mysterious period of time sometimes called “The Dark Ages.”
Peak received his baccalaureate degree from Washington & Lee University and his master’s from the creative writing program at Hollins University.  He works for the Talbot County Free Library on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Thanks to the column he writes for The Star Democrat about life at the library (archived at http://www.tcfl.org/peak/). Peak is regularly greeted on the streets of Easton: “Hey, library guy!”  
For more information please visit William Peak’s website.

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Summary: 
Set in 7th century England, The Oblate’s Confession tells the story of Winwaed, a boy who – in a practice common at the time – is donated by his father to a local monastery. In a countryside wracked by plague and war, the child comes to serve as a regular messenger between the monastery and a hermit living on a nearby mountain. Missing his father, he finds a surrogate in the hermit, an old man who teaches him woodcraft, the practice of contemplative prayer, and, ultimately, the true meaning of fatherhood. When the boy’s natural father visits the monastery and asks him to pray for the death of his enemy – an enemy who turns out to be the child’s monastic superior – the boy’s life is thrown into turmoil. It is the struggle Winwaed undergoes to answer the questions – Who is my father? Whom am I to obey? – that animates, and finally necessitates, The Oblate’s Confession.
While entirely a work of fiction, the novel’s background is historically accurate: all the kings and queens named really lived, all the political divisions and rivalries actually existed, and each of the plagues that visit the author’s imagined monastery did in fact ravage that long-ago world. In the midst of a tale that touches the human in all of us, readers will find themselves treated to a history of the “Dark Ages” unlike anything available today outside of textbooks and original source material.
My Thoughts:
It is exciting for me to read a debut novel that sweeps me away, and I'm giddy with excitement for the author. "William Peak spent ten years researching and writing The Oblate's Confession." I feel the hard labor has sowed an excellent story. 
There are several points which led me to give The Oblate's Confession 5 stars for excellent.
  • Winwaed is a character that not only tells me the story as narrator, he shares what he is thinking, he shares his fears, he shares his emotions, he shares his dreams. He is a character who I can relate in some manner to, because of his humanity brought forth through the story.
  • Winwaed because of the task his biological father has asked of him, is in a difficult situation. I was left wondering what decision he intended to make? And further, what the future held? How would his decision affect his soul? How would his decision affect his mental health? These were tantamount questions that the story revealed.
  • Winwaed had a father/son relationship with a hermit, also referred to as Father Gwynedd. The hermit lived on a mountain of his freewill. He is a man of prayer. A man of solitude and introspection. He is wise and a keen observer. Gwynedd becomes a mentor/teacher to Winwaed. He is a loving father figure for Winwaed. Their relationship is tested and this is an additional point of conflict for Winwaed.
  • I'm not Catholic, nor am I a mystic. I was not uncomfortable by the story but found it interesting. In the 7th century, Catholicism was the Christian Church. In the 7th century, the Celtic mystic belief in England was replaced (overshadowed) by the Roman Catholic belief and structure. The book does not define historically these events. Instead, the story lets the characters show how the change affected them.
  • I've read other reviewers remark on liking the voice in the story-Winwaed-because he is a boy. A child's voice brings innocence, a pure quality, and a freshness. I loved Winwaed's loving spirit. His emotions overtook him at times, but this endeared me to him even more. His youth propelled me to long for and be invested in his safety and health.
Blog Tour Schedule:
Monday, December 1
Review at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, December 2
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, December 3
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at A Fantastical Librarian
Thursday, December 4
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, December 5
Interview at Back Porchervations
Monday, December 8
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, December 9
Review at The Writing Desk
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, December 11
Interview at Forever Ashley
Monday, December 15
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, December 16
Spotlight at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Thursday, December 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Guest Post at Books and Benches
Friday, December 19
Review at Book Nerd
Review at bookramblings
Monday, December 22
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, December 23
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, December 24
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, December 29
Review at The Never-Ending Book
Tuesday, December 30
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, January 2
Review at Library Educated
Monday, January 5
Review & Interview at Words and Peace
Tuesday, January 6
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, January 7
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Thursday, January 8
Review at Impressions in Ink
Friday, January 9
Review at The True Book Addict
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Comments

  1. Sounds quite good.

    Thanks for the background information. The author definitely did a great deal of research.

    Nice review and post.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved February Edition. I am in the list as #11.

    My book entry is below.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Entry

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would like to read this book based on your review. I like the Middle Ages and books about the Catholic Church and this one seems to fit both categories.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds intriguing! I just read two mysteries with monks, coincidentally, A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters and Heresy by S.J. Parris.

    ReplyDelete

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