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on 5 February 2015
The mark of a short story to me is it grabs your attention and maintains your interest throughout. Sadly, although the acrual writing is superb the actual story didn't fully engage me.
John is the boy his religious parents had longed for after have five daughters. He is deemed special and set aside for God; it is expected that he would be given back to the Church and follow a vocation as a Catholic priest.
John wonders if this is God's will; it certainly is driven by his Mother's reflected pride - loved the line about floating above the ground to describe her joy and pride in her son.
The story is in the boys desire to please his family and serve his God.
It reflects well on him and perhaps speaks to our devotion to control others, especially our children and questions our own motives in the choices we make. A good read but not a memorable story.
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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.
4 people found this helpful
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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.
One person found this helpful
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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.
5 people found this helpful
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on 18 June 2017
A gentle prose piece. Predictable in outcome might be an opening chapter rather than a short story. Too brief to flesh out character or develop a narrative tension.
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on 22 February 2013
I will read anything by Susan Hill as I think she is an excellent author, however I found this very disappointing.

I have to admit that I am not a fan of short stories, but thought I'd try this on my Kindle. I think, as others have said that this would have made a good full length novel which would have picked out the highs and lows of the character's life. However because it was so short it seemed all lows and just left me depressed.
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on 9 February 2013
I am a big fan of Susan Hill, but although I enjoyed this short story, it has left no lasting impact.
In less than two weeks since I read it I had to remind myself what it was about by looking it up again. The ending doesn't feel like the ending but the prelude to more exploration of the impact of being steered towards a destiny by a manipulative parent.
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on 17 February 2014
susan hill as ever delivers all the perceptive insights her readers have come to expect and revel in. The sparse prose style, the accurate characterisation,the realistic dialogue and the beautiful use of symbolism. She just gets better and better as she continues to hone her craft. in a word...recommended.
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on 29 May 2018
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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.
2 people found this helpful
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