Pastoral is a short novel about how beliefs and faith can be tested and how that testing changes individuals. It is about the insular and sometimes peculiar behavior of small, rural towns. It is the story of a priest taking up his first parish in the country town of Barrow and how reconnects with nature as his faith is tested in that small town, and his reactions to the somewhat pagan traditions and behaviors of Barrow Day. It is about how tragedy can shape a person such as Lowther, who is preoccupied with the seeming inevitability of his early death. And it is about Elizabeth, who is unwillingly involved in a love triangle and the choices she makes.
At times lovely, amusing, almost profound, this is a novel that involves the reader in contemplation of God, nature and their interweaving in our lives. An overarching and recurring question that seems to be posed to the novel’s characters is “What will you choose to believe and accept?” And we as readers are left to decide whether their choices are based on faith or rationalization.
My copy was won through the GoodReads First Reads program, courtesy of Coach House Books. Is it odd that it gave me a little extra thrill to see the Canadian postage?