Last night I sat down and read a new book through. I just didn’t want to set it down.
The Hawk and the Dove is a trilogy by Penelope Wilcock that was recommended to me a few years ago. I loved the stories and the meaning in them. This month I had an opportunity to review an early reviewer copy of The Hardest Thing to Do, a sequel and part of another planned trilogy.
I enjoyed The Hawk and the Dove so I fully expected to enjoy The Hardest Thing to Do as well. I was not disappointed. I enjoy how the story is well told, the characters are well drawn and become people we care about, and the lessons are such an integral part of the story that even the sermons are interesting and convicting.
This story takes place at St. Alcuin’s, a year after the ending of The Hawk and the Dove. The stories told and lessons learned before are still part of this story and the characters, like all of us, still have growing to do. I think it helps to have read The Hawk and the Dove first to be familiar with the setting and the history. Having read it, it’s a little hard for me to say if it could be read enjoyably if you have not read the prior book. I do know that if it has been a few years and you don’t remember all the details, this story provides enough detail that you understand what is going on without feeling you are missing something.
The dust jacket describes the book as being about forgiveness and the cautions of building trust. In fact, I think this would make a good companion to Unpacking Forgiveness by Tim Brauns as it covers many of the same points in the context of the community.
The story shows the need for compassion and the struggle we have to be compassionate with people who are difficult to love, or enemies and people who don’t even seem to see their need to be forgiven or to change.
I enjoy seeing the life in the community of the monastery, and the different ways the brothers behave and react, and the different levels of self-awareness they display. The concept of vocation, understanding the difference between a human weakness and a human sin, it’s all covered here in a gentle yet convicting and encouraging way. I love spending time at St. Alcuin’s with the brothers who live there.