Monday, June 6, 2022

Brief Book Review: The Confession of Brother Haluin

Ellis Peters

Publisher: General Paperbacks, 205 pages

The Author 

Ellis Peters is the fiction writer of the Benedictine Cadfael mediaeval whodunit series. This particular volume is number fifteen.

Short Summary

It is the winter of 1142, and Brother Haluin falls while helping to repair the damaged roof of the St. Peter and St. Paul Abbey hall. He is seriously injured, and so he makes what he believes could be his deathbed confession to the Abbot and Brother Cadfael.

With the assistance of Cadfael, he survives the fall. Still limping, and in need of crutches to walk, he decides to go on a penitential journey, accompanied by Cadfael. There are several interesting, adventurous events on the journey, including a murder, as well as a couple of unknown discoveries connected with Brother Haluin’s past. 

In the end, Brother Haluin, in this reviewer’s mind, makes the wrong decision by remaining a monk instead of considering another viable option. 

A brief critique: Although it is acknowledged that Brother Haluin most likely became a monk for the wrong reason or reasons, Ellis Peters seems, ultimately, to idealize the monastic vocation in the novel, to the detriment of other vocations. 

What Ellis Peters does succeed in doing quite well in the novel is presenting the “sins” of England’s 12th century patriarchal and class-oriented society. 

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