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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars70
3.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Kindle Edition|Change
Price:£1.15
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on 9 January 2013
A good piece of prose writing with some wonderful thematic content but it is not fully explored in this very short story.
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on 12 January 2013
This is a very short story. It's one of the Kindle Singles, so that shouldn't be a surprise, but it's worth mentioning as much of the criticism I will level at the book is down to the length relative to the story being told. It took me less than an hour to read.
Short stories are an art form. A good short story will often encapsulate a moment or short period in time in a way a novel often can't. This book isn't like that, instead compressing what could easily be a novel into a very short piece of prose. It was easy to read, and entertaining while it lasted, but there's little depth. In fact, the two line product description is about the whole story - there's very little after that, which isn't what you'd expect at all.
The end, condensed in reality into less than a page, seemed rushed to me. I felt the book's narrative deserved more, and that whilst Susan Hill is undoubtedly capable of writing great short stories, this one should have been (a lot) longer.
Still, I've read much worse, and it's a good price, and what there was is enjoyable enough.
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on 12 May 2013
Yes, I would have liked a bit more, and the end is left quite inconclusive, but it was enjoyable and I devoured it all at one sitting - as ever Susan Hill's books are difficult to put down! It goes without saying that it is well-written as are all her books.
Very short, but recommended and it was not expensive.
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on 5 April 2013
Some of the Kindle Singles are disappointingly short, but this is a more reasonable length - about 33 Kindle pages - and Susan Hill has constructed a perfect evocation of an Irish Catholic childhood and the pressures on a young man to enter the priesthood. It isn't a cheerful story, and left me rather sad - but it is undoubtedly true to real life. In these days when we are all questioning the necessity of celibacy for priests, and the results of insisting on their sacrifice of any personal sexual life, the story has a very contemporary theme.
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on 1 April 2013
Love Susan Hill and read a considerable number of her works. I did like this and felt it gave great insights into family life but was a little disappointed by the ending. I felt a bit left 'up in the air'.
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on 8 July 2013
A good story but too short, didn't really develop. Susan Hill can do a lot better than this, but well readable.
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on 21 February 2013
Susan Hill never, ever disappoints and this novel is no exception. This story is about a priest in Ireland and is surely a new venture for her. The writing is exquisite; the ending brings a lump to the throat. A truly heartfelt tale.
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John is pushed into training for the priesthood by his family with very mixed results. This is a short story and a quick read though it does make the reader stop and think. How far should we fulfil our parent's desires for us? How far is it acceptable to give way to impulse?

I was a little disappointed by this story though I generally find Susan Hill's writing interesting and worthwhile. I think there were too many issues raised in the story which is very short and it doesn't quite work and the characters don't quite come alive.
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on 28 January 2013
This was interesting, about a boy doing what his mother wanted for him then he realises what he wants. Left me wanting to know what happened next.
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on 17 April 2013
I came to this book after reading Susan Hill's "The Woman in Black" which had the three ingredients I most look for in a book, that it should be well written, atmospheric and with at least one unforgettable character.

Crystal promised and succeeded in being well written from the start and I had thought, from this author, I was in for a bargain for the price, even though the story was only about twenty pages.

However, while it was interesting to read of her fictional slant on the central character who forgoes sexual satisfaction for celibacy as a Catholic priest I didn't find the dialogue convincing but more as if designed to serve the story rather than to yield up a true portrait of a memorable character.

To be fair, if this had been a full length novel, I'm sure that Hill would have had an opportunity to make the main character so fully fleshed out that he would resonate with me. Even so, the story is still memorable in so far as it provokes thought about what it is for someone to need the strength to forgo what is natural - sexual appetite for a belief in the spiritual.

Perhaps what arouse my sympathy for John was not so much the weakness he had to fight against within himself but that his family upbringing had placed the heavy burden of being whiter-than-white upon him in the context of becoming a priest. As such, he would have had to face even more of a mountain of guilt than some may face when their upbringing has half-brainwashed them into thinking sexual appetite less than righteous. Where would those parents have been and how able to pontificate, without a moment of carnal ecstasy or appetite of their own parents?

Still, if John had chosen to be a Catholic priest, not just because of a feeling of inbuilt guilt during a moment at the confessional, but because he had a spiritual calling, then I can fully understand that he should have expected to have to honour his vows to the Catholic church but I suspect Hill would have needed more than 20 pages to give this fuller and perhaps richer picture.
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