A Child of the Cloth by James E. Probetts
I must admit the cover was what first attracted me to look further at this novel. I had just finished a NYC galleries refresher, and this painting by William Powell Frith (1819-1909), Lover's Seat: Shelly and Mary Goodwin in Old St. Pancras Churchyard (1877) is what drew me in. This referencing to portrait painters and poets of that period indeed sets the scene.
It also juxtaposes interaction between the two young lovers in the story.
The soft gentle overtones, the adoring posture of the man, the shy downward glance of the woman. I swear Barchester Towers is around the corner, beyond that bench under the trees, just out of sight.
What the trees do hide is the reality of what was to be our sweethearts' situation; one of unforgiveness, of loss and sorrow, of love and redemption.
Amelia, the daughter of a vicar has a secret love, an atheist!
Class differences and attitudes of the day are exposed. Just watch Downton Abbey to get my gist. Mind you I think the churched middle classes at that time were even more unforgiving than the upper classes.
Love and a life lost by someone else's bitterness is indeed a hard pill to swallow. Amelia is a woman of fortitude, forgiveness and generosity.
Picturesque descriptions such as walking down country lanes, recall times now gone, or once dreamed of. They further enrich the idea of ripeness and bounty, bringing this story of true and simple love down to an identifiable scale. I could smell the promise inherent in the wild strawberries.
Throughout, is a sensitively undergirding exploration of Christian beliefs and actions.
A gently told, rather taking, short love story.
A NetGalley ARC