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 Winawed 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.
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About the Author
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!” In his free time he likes to fish and bird and write long love letters to his wife Melissa.
For more information please visit William Peak's website.
Release Date: 2 December, 2014
Publisher: Secant Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction/Religion
Edition: ARC Paperback
Review Written: 7 January, 2015
This charming tale follows the grown of a boy donated to a monastery in 7th century England. The practice of donating children to religious orders like in this era was quite common, especially if the children weren't the first born. Winwaed becomes a messenger between the monastery and a hermit nearby, finding both companionship and comfort with the hermit as time passes. His natural father returns later in the story, asking for Winwaed to pray for the death of his mentor, the boy is throw into a mortal peril. Who does he listen to and count as a father? The man who sired him or the one who taught him more about life?
Peak plays with the heartstrings of readers, offering a dilemma that many could relate to (though not necessarily in the same situation since it's fallen out of style to send children off to monastery). Leading readers along, Peak has written a masterful and captivating story.
A must read for the new year.