Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Oblate’s Confession” as Want to Read:
The Oblate’s Confession
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Oblate’s Confession

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  75 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
England, the 7th century. Petty Anglo-Saxon kingdoms make war upon one another and their Celtic neighbors. Christianity is a new force in the land, one whose hold remains tenuous at best. Power shifts back and forth uneasily between two forms of the new faith: a mystical Celtic Catholicism and a newer, more disciplined form of Catholicism emanating from Rome. Pagan rites ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published December 1st 2014 by Secant Publishing (first published November 24th 2014)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Oblate’s Confession, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Oblate’s Confession

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Gill's Great Book Escapes
My Review:
A written confession of a monk of his sin; a child’s view of living his life in a monastery, his view of all those around him, and his surroundings as far as he could see. His religious instruction, his questioning, his learnt understanding of human behaviour clearly shows Peak is a master of introspection, but to me the novel felt disjointed in time and flow.

What I found GREAT about the book?

I loved the idea of an adult recounting his childhood with the understand that as he grew h
Danielle Tremblay
I received this book through GR Giveways in exchange for an honest review.

First, I am a little sad to see that many readers do not give more stars to this story and complain about this and that, often indiscriminately.

A reader complained that he did not know how to pronounce the names of the main characters while another wanted this novel to be written in 7th century English! How to reconcile these two requirements? Impossible!

Personally, I don't pronounce the words I read, so what's the matter
Bryn Hammond
Dec 18, 2014 Bryn Hammond rated it really liked it
Shelves: imagined-fiction
A small-press gem, and a definite addition to Anglo-Saxon fiction – or my experience thereof. It’s slow and psychological, and it’s set in a monastery. It won’t win action fans (although its one war scene, done in the same style, exhibits a high realism). I myself, heathen that I am, had my surfeit in the passages on prayer. But I loved its inwardness and its attention to language. In the animal scenes I thought of TH White, for their charm and knowledge. I admired an epic encounter between our ...more
Joe Frazier
Nov 20, 2014 Joe Frazier rated it really liked it
William Peak's The Oblate's Confession is a beautifully written fictional study of an oblate (think Monk's apprentice) within a medieval monastery. It's essentially as series of loosely related vignettes in the life of Winwæd, son of Ceolwulf, as an oblate who is placed in some unique roles within the community at Redstone. The stories are from his perspective. Mr. Peak does a beautiful job, using Winwæd, to convey the life and times of a 7th century monastic community and the village and people ...more
At a 7th century Northumbrian monastery an oblate, Winwæd, is writing down his remembrances through the years--

"I write under obedience: Father Abbot has ordered me to give an account of the events that led up to my sin."

Upon his arrival one snowy winter day, the shy child together with a priest build a snowman. Season follows season, each with its ora et labora. Winwæd becomes the servant of a hermit, living on a nearby mountain. They become friends; the hermit, Father Gwynedd, teaches him a
Oct 20, 2016 Kimberly rated it it was amazing

This book is the written confession of a 7th century Northumbrian monk or his sins. Winwaed is a servant of a hermit when he first arrives. The hermit, FAther Gwyneed show the boy many woodland animals, as well as how to track them. His father shows us soon and asks the boy to pray against the bishop who has been doing terrible things. The book shows the tensions between the Celts and the Roman Christians. The boy become unsure what to do, this father, who he has not seen since he dropped Winwa
Dec 03, 2014 Mieneke rated it really liked it
In the materials I was sent along with The Oblate's Confessionthere was a mention of a connection to the work of the Venerable Bede. This link to Bede, whose work featured in some of my Old English classes at university drew me to this work. Yet it wasn’t the straight historical fiction novel I was expecting. Instead it included a huge amount of philosophical passages about the nature of prayer and faith. It made for an interesting, yet at times slow, read.I do have to say that I think that the ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Patty rated it really liked it
This was a very different type of book and it’s one of those books you are either going to love or hate. I happened to love it. This period in history fascinates me – there is not much known so I have a world of respect for an author who can build a rich story out of little snippets. It was a time when Christianity is just starting to take hold in England and its tenets are sometimes at odds with the “old ways.”

Young Winwaed has been donated to the Monastery by his father in a burst of enthusias
Sarah Freeman-langford
Oct 27, 2014 Sarah Freeman-langford rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This was a Goodreads Giveaway so as I always do I will start with a big thank you to the author and publisher for the copy. It was received very quickly and in perfectly pristine condition. The copy I received was a pleasing soft back edition and I would just like to say how much I love the cover. The artwork fits absolutely perfectly with the theme and feel of the story.

Onto the nitty gritty of the actual review. The tale itself is a first person account from an 'apprentice' monk in the 7th cen
Jan 25, 2015 Megan rated it liked it
I'd give this book a 3.5 star rating if that were possible. While I was not very familiar with the period of history in which the story was set, I found myself interested in the tale and finding out what the oblate's confession would be. The pacing for the story is deliberate and caused me to slow my reading pace to best absorb the overall mood. An oblate is a "gift-child" from a warrior to a monastery. In effect, this child will be sentenced to a life as a monk, regardless of the child's ...more
Dec 15, 2014 Erin rated it liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I'm not sure what I expected from William Peak's The Oblate's Confession, but the book proved a pleasant surprise. I found the introspective tone of the narrative intriguing, but I felt Peak's decision to write from a child's perspective a stroke of genius. The questions Winwæd asks about faith and the things that capture his interest within the monastery are fascinating, but watching him piece these concepts together as his
Melisende d'Outremer
"This gift-child, called an oblate, will grow up in the abbey knowing little of his family or the expectations his natural father will someday place upon him ..."

England in the 7th Century was a turbulent period as the Anglo Saxon kingdoms peaked and waned. Christianity was not the dominant religion, and often was interspersed with periods of Pagan ascendancy.

Into this mix a child - an Oblate - is given to the Church (usually a Benedictine monastery) by their parents but were not professed monk
Jan 13, 2015 Annette rated it it was amazing
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 mea
Nov 18, 2014 Elsi rated it really liked it

My Thoughts

The story in The Oblate's Confession is delivered in first person by Winwæd, an elderly monk, who says, “I write under obedience: Father Abbot has ordered me to give an account of the events that led up to my sin.” And thus his story begins with Winwæd's arrival at a small monastery in Northumbria. He's been delivered to the monastery as a gift from his parents. Such a gift child was referred to as an oblate, and shared the life of the monks.

William Peak has written an exquisitely

Oct 05, 2014 J. rated it it was ok
"The Oblate's Confession" by William Peak is a work of historical fiction set in Seventh Century Northumbria. It is the tale of Winwaed, whose father gave him to the service of Redestone Monastery when he was a small child. Such a gift child is called an oblate. As the title indicates this is his confession; written from the perspective of old age and recounting his life in the monastery and the great sin he committed. The book is obviously a work of love for the author. It is smooth in style, ...more
Alright, I admit I am slightly obsessed with the early Anglo-Saxon period, and any book in the Christian Fiction genre set in seventh century England is likely stir up a childish excitement and delight upon discovery.
On seeing this book mentioned amongst others in an article that demonstrated how the medieval period is becoming an increasingly popular setting in said genre, I decided it was time to read.

I expected- well I’m not sure- maybe not a sweeping epic- I did read the synopsis after all.
I began reading this book with some trepidation. I am acquainted with the author, I had been told it was a book to read slowly and finally its time frame (seventh century) is one I am rather unfamiliar with. I need not have worried.

The book is beautifully written, full of evocative language and descriptions. The book itself is beautifully rendered and includes maps of the locations along with a list of characters which is helpful due to the unusual names of the time. Winwæd, the oblate of the t
...a treasure! 'a bright place full of color' even in the darkest hour!

Set during 7th Century England when Christianity is finding a foothold in England. When different groups of monks hold differing attitudes. A world where Christianity and ancient beliefs clash. A small boy, Winwaed, is given to a Monastery straddling two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
A world where the power of spirits and prayer is primal, unfettered by the rationalism of today.
We begin with the oblate as an old man retelling his sto
Sarah Briggs
Dec 04, 2014 Sarah Briggs rated it really liked it
(I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads giveaways).

(This review may contain spoilers).

Although there were parts of this book I felt were really slow-moving, I found myself drawn into it fairly well, despite the fact that there were some instances of modern language used.

It was interesting to see the world in this book. Despite the modern language I mentioned above, I felt like I'd been drawn back in time. There were some parts of this book that really affected me, such as
Dec 18, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
A young boy is given to Redestone monastery in 7th century England. Winwaed's father has made a promise during the war that his next born son would go to God, so Winwaed is donated at a young age. As the country encounters wars, plagues and political upheaval, Winwaed watches from the confines of the monastery grounds. As he grown Winwaed earns the position as the one to climb a nearby mountain to deliver supplies to a monk who has decided to live as a hermit. The hermit becomes a father figure ...more
Michelle (True Book Addict)
I'm so conflicted about this book. On one hand, I have to admit to being fascinated by monastic life. Those who choose that way of life have always been deeply interesting to me. To have that much devotion to your faith is amazing to me. However, an oblate is donated to the church by his family so, in a sense, did not choose that life. It is from this knowledge that much of Winwaed's behavior is understood. And yet, he is still so devoted to his faith in the end that he feels the deep need to ...more
Jan 01, 2015 Clarissa rated it it was amazing
The Oblate’s Confession is a slow read, so I think it’s perfect on a winter’s day when you’re all curled up and have a hot beverage in hand. You’re definitely going to need to pay attention to every detail or else you’re going to miss something. It’s a brilliant read, however, and it’s worth the patience you pit in to reading it. It seemed mind-boggling that some of the questions raised then are relevant today. Just because the century changes, doesn’t seem to change the universal struggles and ...more
Scott Haraburda
Feb 16, 2015 Scott Haraburda rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
Goodreads First Reads Giveaway Book.


The Oblate's Confession is an extensively researched historical fiction set in seventh century Northumbria, an early medieval kingdom in northern England and south-east Scotland. It revolves around the life of a small child, Winwaed, in the service of Redestone Monastery.

The book has elegant prose and wonderful descriptions. However, there was too much detail and not enough storytelling that made the reading a tormenting exp
Bryan D.
Jan 29, 2015 Bryan D. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oblate, from the past participle of the Latin verb offero, offerre, obtuli, oblatum--to offer, bring forward, present. That which has been offered. In the medieval world drawn so carefully by William Peak, the Oblate is a child who has been promised to religious life. One in particular, Winwæd, was promised to God by his father, Ceolwulf, and spends his life at the monastery known as Redestone in Northumbria. Peak has done his homework. The story is full of detail, and as we read Winwæd's ...more
Nov 26, 2014 Lacey rated it it was ok
*I won this book from goodreads' first reads.

It would appear there really is a first time for everything, because with this book I have, for the first time, not finished a book I won through first reads. Even if I'm not enjoying the book I've always felt obligated to finish in order to give a fair and honest review, but this time . . . I just couldn't do it.

It's not that the book is bad - in fact, the writing itself is very good technically speaking. It's just . . . dull. I can enjoy books that
Jan 29, 2015 Jacqie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was expecting a mystery, probably because of the book's title. This wrong-footed me through a good part of the book, especially when the narrator states that he is writing this confession looking back on what happened. But this is a different kind of confession.

The book is great at putting the reader back in time and in the medieval mindset. The first-person narrator is an oblate, or lay brother, given by his father
L Schwarzman
Nov 16, 2016 L Schwarzman rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The accolades were well deserved. I found myself reading The Oblate’s Confession very slowly, not because it is a difficult book to read, but because it is so beautifully written and so lush with details I had to savor it. The book is filled with lessons that Winwaed learned throughout his life. Among my favorites were the story of the chestnut that AElfhelm wore around his neck, and Gwynedd’s lesson on how to pray. Both of these, among others, I found myself ...more
Jun 01, 2015 Catherine rated it liked it
This story creates a world in which the church is beginning to take hold in England and in which there are still those who practice the old religions. The oblate, a boy given in tribute to the church, is being raised by the monks in a monastery on the edge of a small village, and it is through his eyes that we become familiar with the world of those times. He is given the task of taking supplies up the mountain to a hermit who teaches him to understand nature and teaches him contemplative ...more
Tony Riches
Oct 27, 2014 Tony Riches rated it really liked it
William Peak’s evocative images of Dark Age Britain are haunting and convincing. The Oblate’s Confession has a slow pace and demands the reader's attention, so is a book to save for the long winter months. The rewards are there, however, as it raises many questions that are as relevant today as they were in medieval times.

I was fascinated by the details of life in a monastery, the hardships and challenges that were presumably taken for granted at the time. The almost poetic narrative unfolds to
Beth Withers
Nov 11, 2014 Beth Withers rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be quite interesting and very descriptive. I finished the book with a knowledge that I didn't have previously of a Dark Ages monastery. I love reading books where I learn something, books that prompt me to read and research further, and that's what The Oblate's Confession did for me. I enjoyed the wonderful descriptive writing, but I also enjoyed the story of a young boy raised in a monastery, a story that tied so much together. I appreciated that the political aspects were ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Holy Lance (The English Templars #1)
  • Edwin: High King of Britain (The Northumbrian Thrones #1)
  • Taking The Cross
  • Gracianna
  • Way of the Ascetics: The Ancient Tradition of Discipline and Inner Growth
  • The Lady Agnès Mystery - Volume 1: The Season of the Beast and The Breath of the Rose
  • The Spear of Crom
  • The Sword of the Maiden (The Watchmen Saga #2)
  • Anvil of God (The Carolingian Chronicles, #1)
  • The Abbess of Whitby: a Novel of Hild of Northumbria
  • The Lion Wakes (Kingdom #1)
  • Hue and Cry (Hew Cullan Mystery, #1)
  • The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar
  • The Wounds of God (The Hawk and the Dove #2)
  • Flask of the Drunken Master (Shinobi Mystery, #3)
  • On Social Justice: St. Basil the Great
  • The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality
  • The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
Flash!!!! "The Oblate’s Confession" took silver in "The Best New Voice: Fiction" category of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award competition.

William Peak spent ten years researching and writing "The Oblate’s Confession," his debut novel. Peak received his baccalaureate degree from Washington & Lee University and his master’s from the creative writing program
More about William Peak...

Share This Book