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

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  4,867 ratings  ·  387 reviews
From an award-winning writer and one of Canada’s foremost broadcast journalists, comes a deeply wise and moving novel that explores the guilty minds and spiritual evasions of Catholic priests.

Father Duncan MacAskill has spent most of his priesthood as the “Exorcist” — an enforcer employed by his bishop to discipline wayward priests and suppress potential scandal. He knows
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Random House Canada (first published January 1st 2009)
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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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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.
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
Toni Osborne
Book 2 in the Cape Breton trilogy

Synopsis is mainly taken from Wikipedia and expended with my own thoughts

The story follows the life of a Catholic priest named Duncan MacAskill. In the 1970s MacAskill convinced a rural Nova Scotia priest who impregnated his own housekeeper to quickly move to Toronto and avoided what could have been a significant local controversy. MacAskill was subsequently called upon numerous times by the Catholic Church to quietly resolve numerous potential controversies. By
Aban (Aby)
It took me a long while to become totally involved with this novel and it's protagonist, Duncan MacAskill, but eventually I did. This is partly because Duncan is an introverted, reserved, man with many emotional issues from the past. These issues are revealed slowly, VERY SLOWLY, one tiny piece of the puzzle at a time. The same is true in relation to what happened to young Danny MacKay. There are sinister, dark, mysteries running through the book. At the same time, there's another thread interwo ...more
Kimby Bogora
Did not get very far into the book and then read an article in the paper that through me.
Someone saying that if it was not molestation it would be something else in this crazy world that would send us over the edge. Drugs, sex, cigarettes, alcohol are some of the things that a so called religious person says would be equal to the side effects of molestation.

If you want to ruin someones life Molestation is justified in this book. It is never acceptable in my eyes. Not a good read. If a religiou
The Bishop’s Man was the 2009 Giller Prize winner. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Giller, it’s Canada’s largest annual prize for fiction, netting the winner $50,000. McIntyre, a well-known Canadian journalist who has won nine Geminis for broadcast journalism, beat out Anne Michaels, Colin McAdam, Annabel Lyon, and Kim Echlin.

I’m not sure The Bishop’s Man is a book I’d pick up on my own. Still, the novel’s opening pages had me intrigued. Its narrator, Father Duncan MacAskill, is an
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CBC Books: October '12 - The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre 41 45 Oct 31, 2012 12:30PM  
  • The Time In Between
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  • Kit's Law
  • Through Black Spruce
  • Mercy Among the Children
  • February
  • Late Nights on Air
  • The Disappeared
  • River Thieves
  • The Polished Hoe
  • Good to a Fault
  • The Golden Mean
  • The Navigator of New York
  • Away
  • Indian Horse
  • The Book of Secrets
  • An Audience of Chairs
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)
Why Men Lie (The Cape Breton Trilogy #3) Punishment The Long Stretch (The Cape Breton Trilogy #1) Causeway: A Passage From Innocence Who Killed Ty Conn?

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