Last night I finished one of the greatest works of non-fiction I’ve ever read.
I first heard about ‘Father Joe – The Man Who Saved My Soul’ when its writer, Tony Hendra, was interviewed on Danny Baker’s show on BBC London. My interest was piqued because Tony played Ian Faith in Spinal Tap, and Danny declared it straight away to be one of the greatest books he’d ever read.
As the interview went on, it became clear that Father Joe was an extraordinary character. He was a Benedictine monk at Quarr Abbey on the Isle Of Wight, off the south cost of England, who Tony met when he almost had an affair with a married woman, at the age of 14, and was sent to Joe for penance. Thus began a lifelong friendship, the story of which unfolds in the book, bought for me a few weeks ago by TSP.
It’s a truly remarkable story – Tony’s story in many ways is similar to a lot of people in the media – one of vocation, compromise, and hurting the ones nearest to you. The big difference is that always in the background are his visits to Quarr Abbey, and letters from Father Joe.
The end of the book is utterly heart-breaking. I finished it on the tube last night, and I’ve never sobbed on the tube before now – the odd tear as a sad part of a book, but never like this. I’m rather glad the train was pretty much empty.
When I got where I was going, I must’ve looked like I had the world’s worst hayfever, with my swollen red eyes…
Anyway, buy it, please. It’s amazing. A life-affirming, heart-warming inspirational story.
oh, and we SO need to get Tony Hendra for Greenbelt – The Cheat, get onto it.by