4 out of 4 stars
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This was a fun book.
Father Francis ("Call me Frank") Gold is a young British priest, newly appointed to his first parish in Palmetto Lake, Florida. Father Frank finds life ... challenging. He's a pleasant fellow, polite and kind, but frankly (heh) he's not the sharpest pencil in the drawer. He drifts through life, always well-meaning but never as careful as he should be, and the result is a series of major and minor disasters happening to and around him. But he prays earnestly! And maybe God is on his side, because he always comes out the other side of the events in his life, if not unscathed, then at least alive and (mostly) unharmed.
He can't even get his parishioners to call him 'Frank' at first. As the book progresses, Father Frank gains competence, even as the situations he faces become more complex and more dangerous. He experiences his first hangover, his first sermon in his new post, and the most man-eating member of his congregation, all within forty-eight hours of arriving in the US. A critical shortage of clean underwear complicates matters, courtesy of his mother, and ... well. It's a good thing that he's such a nice person, because otherwise, his lack of forethought -- nay, his actual thoughtlessness -- would become annoying. As is, though, he was humble enough, well-intentioned enough, and ultimately, willing enough to learn from his mistakes that I was happy enough to follow him along on his trek from naive accident-begging-to-happen to a more admirable flawed but actually accomplished human being. He even manages to get people to call him Father Frank ... eventually. Well, most people.
There are plenty of laughs in this book. Father Frank's mother supplies some -- who puts a pork pie in someone's luggage? And others are all Frank's (sonic boom plus exhaustion plus fire ants equals a stammering explanation to the parish secretary). I didn't find everything funny; I'm on Brother Jerome's side about the pigs, and the farm ... well. That was no laughing matter. But the story is told such that you are never in doubt that Father Frank is on the side of the angels, and more, that the angels are on his side, too. (They'd have to be, considering some of the situations Frank gets himself into ...!)
The book is written in short chapters, lending itself to quick reading. I tended to read one or more chapters between other tasks, and it held up well to that. This is not a quick book, but the pace is not too slow; Rob Wyatt just takes his time with his story, and in my opinion, the time he took was worth mine. He's a good writer with a clear, easy style. British spelling and grammar, of course -- the book is first person from Father Frank's point of view, after all. It is also clear of most typos and grammar errors. I noticed a couple of spelling mistakes of the homonym variety and some comma faults, but they're few enough and widely distributed enough that they don't detract from the story.
I'm giving this book a solid 4 out of 4 stars. It's a book that should appeal to anyone looking for a book with humor or anyone looking for a book about people acting like real people. It's fun and funny, winsome and humane, and while no one of the main characters is all admirable, they're also clearly doing their best to be, well, the best they can be. Even Father Frank ... once he starts taking his calling seriously. And he does take it seriously -- even when no one else seems to.
Maybe that's why the angels are on his side; he really is on theirs.
Can I Be Frank?
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