Monday, October 28, 2013

Letters from Ruby by Adam Thomas

Move over, Father Tim. The town of Victory, West Virginia has a new priest, “a green kid that the bishop sent because there was no one else to come.”

Newly ordained Episcopal priest Rev. Calvin Harper has arrived in the small community to be the pastor of their ailing parish. He has no idea how much he has yet to learn about caring for a church and a community. Ruby Redding, one of the elderly Morning Prayer regulars, takes him under her wing.

What an enjoyable book. Unlike Jan Karon's Father Tim, Calvin is a novice. Victory is his first parish and the learning curve is steep. He starts out on the wrong foot when he is arrested for breaking into his own church – all because he couldn't find an unlocked door. God's mentoring grace comes in the form of an elderly woman, Ruby. She has all the wisdom of a long devoted life and shares it with Calvin as he needs it. And need it he does – especially when Esther Rose, another of the Morning Prayer regulars, gives him a list of what he did wrong after every meeting.

The story is revealed to us in parallel tracks. We follow Calvin as learns all the lessons he was never taught in seminary, and we also read letters Ruby has written to Calvin after he has moved on to another parish. As the novel progresses, we learn more about Ruby, her youth, and her marriage to Whit. We are treated to two stories – one about a novice priest learning about life, love, and grief, and another about a woman full of wisdom from her eighty years of living.

This is a tender coming of age story as Calvin lives into his calling to the priesthood. I really like him. He has a sense of humor, is humble enough to learn from others yet firm enough to take control at a funeral squabble. He's the kind of priest you'd like to have at your parish.

A delightful novel that will have you wanting a sequel.

Adam Thomas is one of the youngest men to be ordained to the Episcopal priesthood. He writes a blog at This is his first novel. He lives in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Abingdon Press, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary galley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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