The Abbey, by James Martin, SJ

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

In the tradition of the spiritual classics The Shack and The Screwtape Letters comes a captivating and poignant debut novel from the revered Jesuit priest and New York Times bestselling author of Jesus andThe Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.

A divorced single mom, Anne can barely cope with life and struggles to make sense of the death of her young son.

A former architect with a promising career, Mark works as a handyman and wonders how his life got off track.

The abbot of the Abbey of Saints Philip and James, Father Paul sometimes questions whether he made the right decision in secluding himself so thoroughly from the world.

At this Pennsylvania abbey, this unlikely trio will discover the answers they seek—a miracle of hope and understanding that bears witness to the power of God to bring healing and wholeness to our lives.

Written with the compassion, insight, and warmth of his previous bestsellers—Jesus, Between Heaven and Mirth, and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything—Father James Martin’s debut novel is infused with deep spiritual wisdom, wry humor, and loving grace. Through his characters’ struggles, questions, and crises, we see firsthand how God uses our worries, anger, doubts, prayers, failures, and longings to help us complete ourselves and feel wholly loved.

Read on for an excerpt from The Abbey and for my thoughts on it.

My Take:

Every so often I venture to my local library to see what they have on their New Fiction shelves that I might’ve missed. The Abbey was my most recent discovery. I knew nothing about it except for the description on the cover. Upon further reflection, I realized I recognized the author’s name. I used to follow him on Twitter and have seen him on cable news.

The two main characters are not Christians, although one works at the abbey and enjoys spending time with the monks. The other wants nothing to do with the Church and is highly critical of it. They aren’t bad people; they’re regular humans. They have strengths and weaknesses. They have emotions. They swear and even blaspheme, because it’s what humans do. It is a little jarring, however to read expletives, in a novel written by a Jesuit priest!

Father Martin isn’t the greatest of fiction writers. There are long sentences, broken into phrases by plenty of commas. The plot is slow moving with no clear sense of direction. Still, there’s something about The Abbey that’s enticing. It’s comforting and soothing. Much like the community after which the book is named, it’s a respite from a chaotic world. The Abbey is a hidden gem I’m glad I discovered.


Have you read The Abbey? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Publisher: HarperOne (an imprint of HarperCollins)

Publication Date: 13 October 2015

Page Count: 224

Read more on:   Father James Martin’s website   HarperOne’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

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