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The Bishop's Man

(The Cape Breton Trilogy #2)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  7,602 ratings  ·  481 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 30th 2009 by Random House Canada (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  7,602 ratings  ·  481 reviews

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This was a dark, disturbing read. While the “story” was no surprise and has been documented over and over, for some reason I was expecting this to be different...This is a story of a priest, Father Duncan, who is a close confidante of the bishop and as such he is called to mitigate situations where other priests have fallen. If another priest is found to have committed some inappropriate act or acts, and the Catholic Church, in its wisdom, moves them to diffuse the situation, (rather than turn t ...more
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
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Dec 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
"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
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
This is a well written book that tackles some big issues and the last couple of chapters are page turners for sure. I would have enjoyed this book better if there was less hopping around in time. I don’t usually have a problem with a plot unfolding in a nonlinear fashion, but MacIntyre kind of went overboard with it here so I’m downgrading to three stars instead of four.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 11, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Connie Donnelly
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book. As a catholic I'm so sickened by the abuse suffered by so many. Yet I know that there are many good men who are our priests and they suffer and are angered by those who have commited these crimes. We are betrayed by the men who covered up their crimes and moved these men around time and again to endanger even more children. This book tells the story of so many who are touched in so many ways by what has gone on for too long.
This book was a chore to read. Had it not been a book club selection, there’s no way I would have finished it. There were sections that were very well written ... some truly beautiful descriptions of the east coast ... but the way the story was pieced together made it impossible for me to enjoy. There was constant jumping around from timeline to timeline, with no clear indication of where we were in the story. The middle dragged on and became repetitive. The end was underwhelming. I couldn’t get ...more
Steven Langdon
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: super
"The Bishop's Man" is the final nominee for the 2010 Giller Prize in my reading. It is a novel that I can easily see winning the award (and it in fact did so,) given the way that it reflects the troubling headlines in our country and society these days, and given the depth, perception and sense of place with which the author writes. Duncan MacAskill tells his story of life as a hard-edged priest, the enforcer for a politically-skillful bishop who is trying to suppress scandal for the church at t ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 25, 2017 added it
Be thee fair warned, I'm going to talk about the ending first, so spoilers and all that:

It felt like a cop out. Turns out the priest (Brandon Bell) who the protagonist (Father MacAskill) has sent away to the little Cape Breton village (because of his "diddling" in Newfoundland) DIDN'T molest the Cape Breton boy who grew up and killed himself. So, our guilt-ridden protagonist is essentially exonerated of the darkness that is the key theme of the book. And we see this coming for some time. Then, M
Aug 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lorina Stephens
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Eva van Loon
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Successful as it is in revealing the inner workings of Mother Church, depicting local characters and transmitting the ambience of Cape Breton, this book did not make me want to go there, any more than it made me. want to attend Mass. More than the weather seems morose in this book: our hero, Duncan, has apparently been stuck in survivor's guilt mode for nigh on 20 years.
The panoply of characters is at first confusing; I pawed back and forth through the book, trying to figure out who this Willie
May 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Kristine Morris
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, best-books
This book is brilliant! Excellent on so many levels. I don't know why but from the first page I was so comfortable reading his prose. And only once did MacIntyre's voice intrude on my reading. At first the way he flipped in mid-conversation between the present and the past was confusing, but then you looked forward to it - to see how he would weave things together. And just when you got used to it - the character himself started to get confused... he began to have mental lapses when he started o ...more
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-gillers
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
Ms. Wendy B.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Although this novel tackles issues of scandal and abuse in the Catholic Church, it's ultimately a novel about a priest dealing with temptation, guilt, secrets, and loneliness. I didn't find the plot "engrossing [with] the page-turning energy of a thriller", but I found it a thought-provoking read and Father Duncan McAskill a character with whom I could empathize.
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 04, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
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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.

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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