Andrew O’Hagan’s new novel tells the story of Father David, a Catholic priest who goes to work in a Scottish working-class community on the Ayrshire coast. The clash of values that follows guarantees that he comes to grief on the prejudices and hatred which are the community’s only binding force.
After a short glimpse of him with his mother, we first see Father David in Dalgarnock through his relationship with Mrs Poole, his housekeeper. ‘You’ve a bit of education up yer sleeve, Father,’ she says to him. Although not slow to criticise, Mrs Poole clearly admires her employer.