Set in the 1930’s in a remote section of Mexico, Graham Greene’s classic The Power and the Glory tells a tale of two priests: Padre Jose and “The Whiskey Priest” during a time when the local government has outlawed religion and the penalty for practicing is death. Padre Jose was a good priest – humble and honest, but human in that he succumbed to his own fears. He gave up his priesthood, agreed to a forced marriage and refused all requests from the locals for the sacraments. “The Whiskey Priest,” conversely, was a bad priest. He broke his vow of celibacy – even siring a daughter with a local woman. And he loved his whiskey, hence the name. But this priest mired in his own worthlessness, still felt the obligation to serve the people, in spite of the danger.
On the one hand, The Power and the Glory is a beautiful story of humility and redemption, of finding something good and worthy in people even though they are not perfect. On the other hand, I struggled with the writing. The characters were not fleshed out, and seemed very two-dimensional. At times I was bored and had difficulty keeping track of the different characters in the book. That is often my dilemma with classic literature. There’s a writing style some early authors use that, despite the great idea presented in the novel, prevents me from becoming totally engaged.
Still, I’m glad I read this one. It definitely gave me some food for thought.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1940
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