Father Barnaby is an English religious minister who witnesses the graphic, powerfully emotional act of a suicide committed by a young man.
As the story unfolds Father Barnaby has an extra marital affair which I feel demonstrates his inability to be superhuman. The priest also experiences very human states of disillusionment, dark nights of the soul, revealing that those who project a virtuous image can sometimes fall prey to temptation.
I believe that the problems Father Barnaby endures revert to the witnessing of the suicidal act. I feel that he is subconsciously harbouring immense emotional pain which sabotages his ability to be truly happy and at peace. However he does confront his demons quite courageously and manages to overcome them drawing on a supportive family and friendships and making displays of human warmth.
Overall this is a very moving story about the trials and tribulations of a rural Anglican parish with its clannish community who are close-knit and interdependent. It is a narrative filled with intriguing microcosms of people’s lives.
I read this story reflectively and gained a strong sense that beyond the veneer of superficial images, beyond the idyllic portrayal of rural village life and its stereotypes problems exist like anywhere else. Nobody is immune from life’s ups and downs; nowhere is perfect
SHIPLEY READING GROUP
A charming and intriguing story whose characters and lives slowly converge like the pieces of a jigsaw. 8/10
An excellent story with many interesting relationships and complex characters, especially Barnaby, the ‘perfectly good man’ of the title. 8/10
A perfectly good book as it is a well written and balanced account of different family units and their eventual interconnectedness. Also gives each characters personal perspective against a Cornish backdrop of changing social mores, in an unsentimental yet moving way. Made me eager to read more by this author. 9/10
A well written book with interesting and believable characters. Found it difficult at first to follow each chapter relating to a different person and going backwards and forwards in time. The perspective of life from different character viewpoints was very interesting and enlightening and added to the enjoyment of the novel. Faith, marriage and mental illness were portrayed in an understanding and humane way. 8/10
Burley Library Reading Group