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The Bishop's Man (The Cape Breton Trilogy #2)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  5,412 ratings  ·  399 reviews
The year is 1993 and Father Duncan MacAskill stands at a small Cape Breton fishing harbour a few miles from where he grew up. Enjoying the timeless sight of a father and son piloting a boat, Duncan takes a moment’s rest from his worries. But he does not yet know that his already strained faith is about to be tested by his interactions with a troubled boy, 18-year-old Danny ...more
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Random House Canada (first published January 1st 2009)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodLife of Pi by Yann MartelAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryWater for Elephants by Sara GruenA Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Best Canadian Literature
86th out of 839 books — 749 voters
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Scotiabank Giller Prize winners
14th out of 23 books — 55 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jennifer (aka EM)
A quick and gut-reaction 5 stars. It took me at least half-way through to figure out what he was doing, and to shed the preconceptions of what I thought this book was going to be. The last 10050 pages are masterful.



This turned out to be a different novel, a better novel, than the one I was expecting. I know Linden MacIntyre as a journalist, and knew this was about the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. So I expected a journalistic exploration of that topic
A topical story for our times told by an insider, Fr. Duncan MacAskill, who is a "hit man" for his church, responsible for removing sexual predators from among his colleagues to safer grounds, (so that they are free to commit more crimes, it seems from the news reports these days).

The story focuses on Duncan's unravelling and descent into alcoholism from combinations of the guilt piled on during his childhood, his suppressed feelings towards the women in his life, the isolation of his office, an
With Linden MacIntyre being one of my favourite journalists, I was thrilled to hear of his novel being honoured as the winner of the Scotiabank Giller prize for 2009. After reading the synopsis of the story, I knew it would be an uncomfortable read, but trusted in MacIntyre’s reverence and honesty to make it through. I was not disappointed.

The Bishop’s man is a story told in spirals, as we twist and turn through past and present fluidly, giving us a clearer picture of the events that can become
"You know the eagles secret? He never lets us see him scavenging. You only see him soaring. Or sitting high up, somewhere out of reach. Kind of superior. He's very discreet about the mundane, the mortal... It's easier to mythologize that way." (346)

This book moved me in unexpected ways. As a member of a "helping" profession, I often find myself extremely isolated. I work with sexual offenders, addicts, victims- much as the central character of this story- and he truly gets the sense of isolation
Mary Lou
I avoided this book because of the repulsiveness of the subject matter and, were it not for book club, would probably have kept on avoiding it. That would have been a shame, as it’s turned out to be a good book. The main character struggles with guilt arising from many “sins” of omission and commission in his past, one of them being his role as the bishop’s go-to guy whenever it was time to move a troublesome priest to a place where he might not cause quite so much trouble. The book grapples wit ...more
This novel won the Canadian Giller prize and at the time it was considered a surprise. I didn't expect to like this novel, but I did, very much. I became totally engrossed in it. It's a quiet, psychological novel, written in a well-crafted spare style. The subject couldn't be more important or relevant. The main character, a sympathetic priest who only wants to do the right thing, is given the assignment of helping to cover up the sexual abuses that are increasingly coming to light. His suspicio ...more
Dec 14, 2009 Alexis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
This book was wonderfully different from what I was expecting. I was expecting a straight narrative about sexual abuse in one church or community. Instead I got this rich, layered narrative about the priest's role, isolation and the challenges of being both a priest and a man. I loved MacIntyre's style of writing, and the weave of the narrative. Nothing in here was black or white, and the story continued to raise questions throughout. This was an excellent example of "show, not tell." The reader ...more
Journalist Linden MacIntyre uses fiction to tackle one of the biggest scandals of the 20th century Catholic Church, the sexually abusive priests and the havoc that they created. Through the eyes of Duncan MacAskill, a fifty something priest, we are taken on a tour of the emotional and political landscape of an institution and individuals failing to respond adequately to a major crisis. Set in Cape Breton in the 1990's MacIntyre has spun a tale that is believeable in its understanding of a comple ...more
Lorina Stephens
To read The Bishop’s Man, by Linden MacIntyre, is to come to an understanding about nuance, patience and the sometimes ambiguity of knowledge.

The novel is set in the late 1990s of Cape Breton, at a time when the Catholic Church is under siege both from within and without, and when Canada’s fisheries are collapsing. Come into this Father Duncan MacAskill, known among his colleagues as the ‘Exorcist’, the damage-control man for the Bishop of Antigonish.

Duncan himself is in need of damage control,
I admit that because of the subject matter (sexual abuse within the Church)I was not comfortable to read The Bishop's Man, but after reading other reviews on goodreads I figured I would give it a shot.

First of all, the way that it is written reminds me of The Sound And The Fury in that it jumps in time from different moments in the past to the present. It felt like every other page where the time or place would shift without warning, but it really fit with the story. It was not difficult to foll
I enjoyed - yes, genuinely enjoyed reading this book much, much more than I'd anticipated. I've always admired Linden MacIntyre as a journalist and assumed he would have an ideally balanced perspective, of both compassion and acuity, for such controversial subject matter as the sexual abuse scandals associated with the Catholic church. That admiration and confidence in the author's vision still didn't give me the stomach, though, for a story so closely ripped from the headlines, with the news of ...more
Bill Huizer
The relaxed pace of MacIntyre's prose matches the setting of the novel - a boating community coast of Nova Scotia. He feels no need to rush the story, as he slowly introduces us to the characters and the situation that slowly suffocates the personal life of Father Duncan MacAskill. I enjoy this type of skillful writing, where the author slowly leads the reader deep into the narrative, giving him time to exist and understand this world.

The strengths of the prose might explain my disappointment w
Picked up this latest Giller winner in hardback for $2.00 at the Book Drive.

I really enjoyed this book! Father Duncan MacAskill is a fixer for the bishop. He is the one who deal with priests who have a drinking problem, are suspected of being abusers, have broken the vow of celibacy or are thinking of leaving the church. One problem is that Father Duncan has issues of his own.

It is a very real book. The dialogue is very natural and the characters believable. There is a real Canadian feel to thi
This book was the winner of the 2009 Giller Prize (a canadian literature award) which often scares me off but I'm so glad I took a chance. The subject matter intrigued me and I admire MacIntyre as a journalist. The story is told in a very conversational style, with constant flashbacks that are a bit troublesome to keep straight at first but as you slowly piece the story together, it's very effective and realistic. The subject matter is disturbing but the author handles with perfection, never get ...more
Rebecca McNutt
I love Cape Breton literature, but this one wasn't one of my favorites. It wasn't MacIntyre's usual vibrant work and it was rather boring for the most part. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really all that great, either.
This book would have gotten 4 stars if the storyline was changed to be linear, or possibly if I was able to read it in one sitting. The story jumped around so much, between 3 or 4 different time periods in the protagonist's life, that I was constantly wondering where I was in his story. It seems like these days you can't write an award winning novel without using non-linear storytelling. Everybody's doing it! I think it has its place, but not all stories need to be that convoluted. Some just nee ...more
"One day we'll talk", I said. "Yes", you said. "About purposes", I said. "Okay", you said. "Or about having no purposes", I said.
Listening to this audio book was, at times, grating because so much of the conversation goes on as above. Lots of "I/he/she said" after short sentences going nowhere....why?....because no one ever talks!
I missed the point of this one, I think. There are mysteries and secrets and guilt referred to throughout but very few explanations. Father MacAskill is so aloof that
I admit to being apprehensive about reading this book. With so much controversy and scandal surrounding this topic, how would MacIntyre approach it?

This book was beautifully written and kept me wanting more, even when it was finished!

The landscape of the East Coast is as haunting as the story.

Tackling tough issues such as sexual abuse, subastance abuse, PTSS from World War II, suicide, family relationships and dynamics, etc. This book was a heavy read, but in my opnion worthy of the Giller Prize

A priest is considered to be with one with God, perceived to live a flawless life of impeccable morals and values. This stereotype is proven to be false in Linden MacIntyre’s The Bishop’s Man. In the setting of a small town located in Nova Scotia, MacIntyre reveals the hidden secrets of Father Duncan MacAskill’s past and the truths come as an intriguing yet horrifying shock. The unfolded adversities unveil a damaged society in which a cult-like priesthood protect each other, regardless of the se
“I was a priest in a time that is not especially convivial toward the clergy.”

So begins the fascinating story of Father MacAskill, a Nova Scotia priest who in the 1990s becomes the local bishop’s trouble-shooter. MacAskill was sent to deal with wayward priests, including those involved in sexual transgressions with adults or children. He would generally arrange for the priests to be sent away, sometimes for therapy or to non-parish duties. And he would find quiet ways to address the victims and
A bit frustrating. Lots of time changes, flashbacks, flash forwards.
When he doesn't tell the story, it is maddening. Sometimes, it's because it's first person narrative and he can't know if no one tells him, but other times, he chooses not to tell anyway. However, over all, it is thoroughly readable and very thought-provoking. What is the price of a secret to a community? To many communities? To a denomination?

Wonderful observation.
"'You know the eagle's secret?' he said. 'He never lets us see
Diana Stevan
I read The Bishop's Man just after Pope Francis's visit to the USA. The author writes about a priest, who's known as the enforcer within the church, as he deals with those priests who've been caught in a sexual scandal or in some other illicit activity. He is often called by the bishop, who counsels him to look the other way from time to time. The fact that he's asked to participate in cover-ups and attempted cover-ups plays heavily on his mind. He has his own secrets that are hard to bear and t ...more
I agree with what many have said regarding the time frame of story jumping around so much, difficult to keep track of where you are in the story - after finishing the book I am still not 100% certain of what really happened - and who was guilty of what - not sure I would have picked this book as a Giller winner. There still seem to be some unanswered questions for me.
Chris Campbell
I am not sure exactly how to review this book, except to say that I found it comforting, at times, and evasive, at others. Told from the perspective of a middle-aged priest at the end of his vocation, haunted by his years of service as a one-man clean-up crew for potential scandals in the Church around Nova Scotia, he reflects on his years as a priest. As I say, this is comforting at times (mostly because he gives credence to doubt and crises of faith and the mistakes/blunders we make in simply ...more
It was just okay for me. I wasn't keen on MacIntyre's style. It felt self-consciously oblique to me. Didn't find myself caring much about the main character. But it was an interesting and unusual perspective on child molestation and the Catholic church, and it never got sordid, so points for that.
I liked it, but I didn't love it. It was definitely a Cape Breton book, and I enjoyed the local-ness of it. The jumping from past to present got annoying really quickly, but I don't think it took away from the story at all. I'd like to read his memoirs now.
Tina Siegel
So I'd never read any of Linden MacIntyre's work. I knew him as a CBC host first, and an author second. But I'd heard a lot about this book, and it was available electronically when I was looking for my next read, so I downloaded it.

(Sidebar: I discover a lot of great writing this way. I recommend it.)

It was a good call.

'The Bishop's Man' revolves around a priest who, after years of faithfully helping his bishop clean up after pedophile colleagues, ends up in a small, East Coast parish very cl
This is a story of faith,hope,and redemption. One man's struggle to come to terms with his past and move forward into the future. An evocative journey into understanding of what it means to straddle two worlds that one loses sight of what comes first, being a priest or being human. Learning,sometimes the hard way that there is always more to a situation than meets the eye.

The story of Duncan MacAskill describes both the physical and emotional landscape of the character and his surroundings. W
OK, but not great. Found the flashback/flashforward style a bit tedious at times. Wouldn't have been my choice for the Giller.
Good read. Story about the misbehavings of Catholic priests in the Cape Breton area. Duncan is the clean up man for the Bishop of Antigonish. Clean up as in avoiding bad press for the church with indiscretions with boys or women in the parish. begs the question why Catholic priests are celebate when they have the same feelings as men but supposedly cannot fulfill them in a normal sexual way. Duncan becomes an alcohlic and eventually retires to a home in Ontario for 40 days to dry out. He is the ...more
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  • A Good House
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  • A Good Man
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  • The Polished Hoe
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  • Kit's Law
  • Clara Callan
  • Two Solitudes
  • The Stone Carvers
  • Good to a Fault
  • River Thieves
  • The Disappeared
  • February
  • Indian Horse
  • Late Nights on Air
  • The Navigator of New York
Linden MacIntyre is the co-host of the fifth estate and the winner of nine Gemini Awards for broadcast journalism. His most recent book, a boyhood memoir called Causeway: A Passage from Innocence won both the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the Evelyn Richardson Prize for Non-Fiction.
More about Linden MacIntyre...

Other Books in the Series

The Cape Breton Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Long Stretch (The Cape Breton Trilogy #1)
  • Why Men Lie (The Cape Breton Trilogy #3)

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