This thoughtful little book won't take you long to read (at just over 100 pages) but there's a lot here worth absorbing.
The sayings and lives of the so-called desert fathers, who many centuries ago inhabited ancient Syria and a number of surrounding territories have in recent times attracted the attention of many modern readers. The translation of a number of their writings by Sister Benedicta Ward, in particular, has assisted in this, as she has made what these distant believers taught available in a helpful collection in English.
Rowan Williams' book offers a discussion of a number of the most important features of the spirituality of the desert fathers - their asceticism, conceptions of God and the world, and their relationships to others. He offers only a sketch, but does enough to bring the world of his subjects alive.
At the end of the book, there is a transcript of a question and answer session between Williams and a number of interlocutors at a conference in Australia. I felt this was an excellent addition to the book, since the questions posed all relate to how the ideas and examples of the desert fathers can be understood for their relevance here and now, and because Williams' answers intimate (with,for him, an unusual degree of clarity) how he personally conceives the important role of the desert monks in his own spiritual life.