These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere
|These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: The story of a Catholic priest confronting both abuse within the church and his own past. An expansive, wide-ranging novel, generous in both scope and ambition: one for the thoughtful, serious reader who believes that redemption is possible.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 450||Date: August 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
2006 is a tumultuous year for the Catholic Church. Reports of horrific sexual abuse are becoming widespread. Monsignor Steven Trimboli is troubled. He worries for the future of the church—and rightly so. A new crime will soon reverberate throughout his church and hit closer to home than he ever imagined.
As ageing priest Steve Trimboli begins to try to make sense of the child sexual abuse scandal that is rocking his beloved Catholic church, he discovers that one child in his own parish has been abused by a priest sent by his bishop. And this isn't just any boy: this is Steve's grandson whose mother is the offspring of a long past relationship between Steve and a gangster's widow. Steve is determined to seek justice for this boy and all children victimised by priests who have been protected by his church. But he must also face up to his own failings, going right back to his breaking of the celibacy vows.
What follows is a panoramic sweep of the last fifty years, told in flashback, together with the contemporary search for both justice and contrition. It goes from New York to Vietnam, from grubby crimes to moments of purity and grace as Steve grapples with his own past and what his church stands for.
A note for more sensitive readers: These Thy Gifts does not shy away from the harsh reality of child sexual abuse and there are some very distressing passages. So do be warned: there is no skirting around, euphemism or bowdlerising. It's not gratuitous or over done, but it is there.
Despite its exploration of important and weighty, sometimes upsetting, themes, These Thy Gifts is not a miserable read. Panettiere has a lightness of touch that allows him some gently humorous moments that ease the tension and don't seem at all out of place. The character he has created in Steve Trimboli is so dogged and determined to put right wrongs and so willing to reflect on his own history as well as that of the church, you can't help but root for his success.
For a reader on the other side of a very big pond, These Thy Gifts was a fascinating examination of the history of American Catholicism during the post war years. The European church has gone through many similar upheavals but the context is different. I learned a lot by reading it - about the corrupted links between church, community and organised crime, and also about faith in context. But it also works on the level of individual people. The characters are well rounded and credible and their relationships to various forms of corruption - political, financial, of faith - bring them all together, whether they like it or not.
These Thy Gifts is an expansive, wide-ranging novel, generous in both scope and ambition. The weighty and important themes are given the respect and thoughtfulness they deserve. And the human impacts are discussed with a critical compassion that is genuinely moving. The flashback format is deftly handled and illuminating. What more could you want?
One for the thoughtful, serious reader who believes that redemption is possible.
If you're interested in the turbulent history of Catholicism, you might enjoy The Friar of Carcassonne: Revolt Against the Inquisition in the Last Days of the Cathars by Stephen O'Shea.
You can read more about Vincent Panettiere here.
You can read more book reviews or buy These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.