Monday, December 8, 2014

The Oblate's Confession blog tour

02_The Oblate's Confession
The Oblate's Confession by William Peak
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Secant Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: e-galley provided by publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and NetGalley for an honest review


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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.


My Take:
The Oblate's Confession is a bit difficult to describe - for a variety of reasons. First, it is written as a "confession" by the main character, Winwaed - after living a seemingly long, and full life in the monastery. There are repeated references to the fact that he is an old man writing about when he was quite young. Second, there is an almost stream-of-consciousness feel to the book - Winwaed tends to meander in his writing and follows his thoughts where they lead. And finally, the book is referred to as Winwaed's "confession" throughout the book, but it takes quite a long time before there is actually anything to confess. There is a lot of background information about his early memories and how he came to be at the monastery.

Now, while The Oblate's Confession is a bit slower paced than some other historical fiction novels that I have read, I did enjoy it very much. I was very interested in all the history and the references to different groups of people during that time. I also confess to numerous stops to check out Wikipedia to look at maps of the period and to reference historical people. I was so happy to find out that the novel is indeed very historically accurate.

There is quite a bit of theological and philosophical instruction throughout the book because the reader is treated to the instruction that Winwaed receives from his mentors. This was actually one of the aspects of the book that I particularly enjoyed. I loved reading about how monks of the age actually thought and acted their faith. The novel provides a wonderful glimpse of the changing face of Christianity during this time period.

While I enjoyed The Oblate's Confession very much, I am not sure it would appeal to all readers. I would suggest it to those readers of historical fiction who enjoy the historical aspect and don't mind a slower pace and enjoy theological and philosophical discussions. For the reader who sticks with the book, The Oblate's Confession could very well be that gem that you are looking for.


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About the Author

03_William PeakWilliam 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.

The Oblate's Confession Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, December 2
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 3
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at A Fantastical Librarian

Thursday, December 4
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, December 5
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, December 8
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, December 9
Review at The Writing Desk
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, December 11
Interview at Forever Ashley

Monday, December 15
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, December 16
Spotlight at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Thursday, December 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day...Stephanie's Book Reviews
Guest Post at Books and Benches

Friday, December 19
Review at Book Nerd
Review at bookramblings

Monday, December 22
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, December 23
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, December 24
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, December 29
Review at The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, December 30
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, January 2
Review at Library Educated

Monday, January 5
Review & Interview at Words and Peace

Tuesday, January 6
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, January 7
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews

Thursday, January 8
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, January 9
Review at The True Book Addict
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

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