Saturday, June 22, 2013
The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout by William E. Jefferson
Some books, like food, can be gulped down in no time flat. Some are like a buffet in which you can skim along the pages sampling much but truly tasting little. Still others require slow, deliberate consumption and prolonged digestion. William E. Jefferson's novel, The Point, is definitely a book in the last category.
If you are in a hurry or have a short-attention span, you will be frustrated by the pace of this book. This is not rip-roaring action, but slow-moving contemplation and ponderings of deeply eternal things. While it may be physically possible to inhale a good meal, who would want to? This is a book to be savored. A book that may require rereading a sentence here, or a paragraph there. One that makes you stop and think and reflect on what you just read. Given the theatrical thread through the book, this would make an outstanding book to be read aloud (complete with listener participation).
The setting for the book is the Isle of Estillyen--a monastic community known for their "readings." Basically, the monk staff perform dialogues reenacted from Scripture along with some imaginative renderings of dialogues between Lucifer and his demon lackeys. The monks actually take on names that tie into the "story" theme: Epic, Narrative, Writer, Plot, Saga, Story, Drama. They are called Message Makers and you can read their real life biographies here. They bring their audience into the readings by including a "Voice" that usually involves a trio of people expressing questions or observations someone might have when reading the Bible.
Estyllen was often the destination for those on spiritual pilgrimages. Hollie and Goodwin Macbreeze are a young couple visiting for the first time hoping to come away with some fresh perspective on challenges they are facing. Goodwin's grandfather often talked about a particular place on the island. Goodwin's mission is to find the place that meant so much to his grandfather. Hollie needs some time to come to terms with some difficult health issues and is determined to participate in all twelve of the readings they have heard so much about.
In the midst of the beauty and calm of Estillyen lies one wild and untamed area (The Point) with one very embittered occupant: Oban Ironbout. Oban has not been seen for years and when nuns or monks have tried to reach out to him, they have been chased away. In spite of the signs warning trespassers, Goodwin approaches and manages to get Oban to listen to him long enough to explain how his grandfather had told him so much about The Point. This small connection to the past seems to begin cracking the hard, protective shell that Oban has hid behind for 40 years.
This book is a beautiful tale of hurt and wounded souls finding their way back to forgiveness and redemption. The wonderful part is that the reader experiences the drama as it unfolds. The author doesn't skip ahead and gloss over or summarize the events, but carefully describes and allows the reader to partake of the transformation. Jefferson was a master of details--describing people and places like a cinematic experience so the reader can truly visualize the scenes.
This was a truly remarkable, beautiful tale that I look forward to rereading. Many things to contemplate and digest. A completely satisfying read.
Care to visit the Isle of Estillyen yourself (it really exists and its history is fascinating)? Check out the website and enjoy the journey! I certainly hope there is a sequel in the works (would love a prequel as well). And check out the beautiful rendering of Estillyen on the Isle of Estillyen Facebook page. If you want to be challenged in your faith and your understanding of Christ and his redemptive power, then dive into this book today! If you need to a taste test, you can read the first chapter.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of review from Handlebar Publishing. No other compensation was received.