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Monday, 9 March 2009

The Prophet from Ephesus

This is just a preliminary notice about the latest book by Caroline Lawrence in the Roman Mysteries series.

Caroline very kindly gave me an inscribed copy when she heard of my condition, and I began to read it; but I only got right into it on the journey back from Cambridge yesterday, when my son Charlie drove so smoothly that I was able to read without feeling squiffy at all.

The further into the book I got, the more excited and moved I became.

A warning. Compared with the early books in the series it has a complexity that presumes that the reader has grown up a bit and can follow several different story lines at once. There are are also quite a lot of characters, and not all the story lines look like having immediately happy endings. In fact it is all getting more like real life.

But what grabbed me by the throat was the prophet himself, and his friend. I shan't spoil the plot by revealing who he is, only say I wonder whether anyone in the BBC will have the moral courage to continue to dramatise the series for children despite the aggressively secular anti-Christian ethos that obtains there. Caroline has done what my friend Gavin Reid once explained to me that he'd like to do - write a secular novel and bring in, quite naturally, chunks of St John's Gospel. Well, Caroline has not quite done that, but something to me probably even better.

I'm still faced by several cliff-hangers in the book, but I've read enough to know that I would recommend it whole-heartedly.

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