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Be Near Me    by Andrew O'Hagan order for
Be Near Me
by Andrew O'Hagan
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

In a storyline that could have been extracted from today's headlines, David Anderton, an English Catholic priest, narrates his own fall from grace. After having suffered the loss of a lover, Anderton comes to a small parish in rural Scotland. Though he is tolerated, he is regarded with suspicion by the locals who maintain an underlying mistrust of him because he is an Englishman in a small Scottish town.

Perhaps to fill a void stemming from loneliness and isolation, Anderton begins spending an excessive amount of time with some of the young teenagers in town, particularly, Mark and Lisa. For reasons that remain undefined and that may be known only to Anderton himself, he begins to engage in questionable and careless behavior with the kids, including drug use. When Anderton finds himself drawn to Mark, he makes an inappropriate gesture, which leads to his disgrace.

A sweet and redeeming storyline is his relationship with the parish's housekeeper, Mrs. Poole, which becomes rocky once the accusations against him become public.

Throughout the book, Anderton weaves back and forth in time in a luminous narrative as he reflects upon his life. His remorseful tone as he chronicles the events of his life led me to wonder whether he was subconsciously seeking his own downfall. Tragic, powerful, and moving, with insight into the world of English-Scottish politics, this is a book that is somewhat challenging to absorb because of its intensity, but that very factor makes it worthwhile.

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