The Abbey: A Story of Discovery

A Trappist monastery near Philadelphia is the centerpiece of James Martin's compassionate, engaging The Abbey. Martin (Jesus: A Pilgrimage) acknowledges that this novel (his first) is based on a dream and grounded in experiences from his own journey of faith. Thus, he brings together, via the fictional Abbey of Saints Philip and James, three souls, each grappling with personal problems.

The main character is Anne, a divorcee, accountant and lapsed Catholic, who, for three years has been grieving the death of her only child, 13-year-old Jeremiah. Anne owns two houses. She lives in one and the other (her parents' house) she rents to Mark, an unsettled ladies' man and former architect, who now works as a handyman at the Abbey. When teenagers in the neighborhood--friends of Jeremiah--accidentally break a window at the rental home, Mark is forced to contact Anne. Through a series of providential coincidences, Mark and Anne are drawn to the Abbey where Father Paul--the middle-aged abbot who privately questions his own existence and place in the world--gently broadens the views of Mark and Anne in their concepts of spirituality and prayer, mercy and love, and how God and the divine manifest in ordinary lives.

The Abbey takes on a different meaning for the personal evolution of each character. With tender wit and wisdom, Martin offers an in-depth glimpse into committed religious life and how lay people can practice a devout faith amid doubt, anger and questioning. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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