Book Review(s): The Breath of Peace and The Beautiful Thread

3 Jun

Penelope Wilcock has a lovely series titled The Hawk And The Dove. This historical fiction series set in and around a 14th century English monastery (yes, you read that right) is absolutely brilliant! The Breath of Peace and The Beautiful Thread are books 7 and 8 respectively. Both are filled with wit and wisdom, faithful and flawed characters and a setting that will make you long for time travel — if you take your antibiotics first! Here’s a little about each book:

51Rr1K1LtQL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_William and Madeleine are deeply in love―but love may not be enough to win the day.

Madeleine Hazell and William de Bulmer have been married a year. She is a healer, a wise woman, practical, intelligent, and blunt. He is not only an ex—monk, but an ex—abbot, a man accustomed to authority, a gifted administrator, at home with figures―but less capable in matters such as shutting up chickens for the night.

They are deeply, irrevocably in love. And every conversation may become a battlefield that leaves both of them wounded and resentful.

When William’s former abbey, St. Alcuins, suffers the loss of their cellarer, the current Abbot Father John doesn’t know how to handle the rents and provisions. He is a gifted physician and a capable leader, but estate management is beyond his competence. With a sense of rising panic he turns to his friend, the man who renounced his vows for love, the former Father William—only to find that his own pastoral skills may be required in matters matrimonial.

The Breath of Peace is the seventh novel in The Hawk and the Dove series and explores themes of mutual submission found in Ephesians 5:21–33.

Purchase this book HERE.

51h3Ir-3VlL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Abbot John has to face the consequences of his previous good deeds—and none go unpunished.

In this eighth novel of the Hawk and the Dove series, William, has returned to St. Alcuins at Abbot John’s request to help his replacement learn the ropes. But William’s return coincides with a bishop’s visitation, a regular event.

The bishop, a zealous churchman with a large entourage, has heard rumors of St. Alcuins having had in their community one William de Bulmer, who is said to have attempted suicide and left the order—attempted suicide is a felony and breaking monastic vows is a grave sin. The bishop wants to know where this man is so he can be arraigned before an ecclesiastical court, and wishes to discover what happened and what part Abbot John played in those events.

As the story unfolds, the beautiful thread of the gospel weaves quietly through the contrasting colors of human frailty, religious zeal, and social pretension.

Purchase this book HERE


61vwghocnul-_ux250_Penelope (Pen) Wilcock is the author of over a dozen books of fiction and poetry, including The Hawk and the Dove series. She lives a quiet life on the southeast coast of England with her husband and is the mother of five adult daughters. She has many years of experience as a Methodist minister and has worked as a hospice and school chaplain.

My Impressions:

The Breath of Peace and The Beautiful Thread continue the saga of the brothers of St. Alcuin’s monastery in northern England. Much has changed throughout the years, but grief, betrayal, and death cannot shake the firm foundation of their faith. Each book in the series focuses on a specific character amid the backdrop of the larger community. Favorite characters from previous books continue their supporting role in the life of the monastery. And I suppose you could pick up any book and start reading, but I recommend that you start with book one and work your way through the series. Each book is less than 300 pages and quickly read, so you will be caught up in no time! 🙂

The Breath of Peace explores marriage and its picture of man’s relationship with God. The unlikely pair of former monk William de Bulmer and his wife, Madeleine, are the center of the book. Their first year of marriage is a tug of war between personalities and stubborn wills. This is a story of two wounded people made into one flesh by the miracle of God — and the hard work of making a relationship work. Their love matures as they look to God to teach them to love each other. Abbot John’s wise counsel was just what they (and this reader) needed to remind them of their place in God’s world. Peace within marriage is achievable through Jesus’s gift of peace.

In The Beautiful Thread, which follows immediately after The Breath of Peace, Abbot John is confronted with his own foibles and failings. He is buffeted on all sides by pretentious and contemptuous people. Kindness, as it is lived out, is the theme of this book; the beautiful thread that elevates and encourages the vulnerable around us. In a turn around of roles, it is William who counsels John to find his way again. There is one character I hope never to see again in Wilcock’s books, but his casual and unconscious cruelty is a good contrast to the way God calls us live.

As I read the Hawk And The Dove series, I am always surprised by how much I like these books. With well-researched historical details in custom, dress, and cuisine and a faithful depiction of monastic life, these books are remarkably modern in their outlook and application. But truth is always ageless, and Wilcock has a wonderful way of portraying truth through the simple life of complex men.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for review copies. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



3 Responses to “Book Review(s): The Breath of Peace and The Beautiful Thread”

  1. semicolonsherry June 4, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

    I love this series. I can hardly wait to read these two new-to-me volumes in the series.

    • rbclibrary June 5, 2016 at 6:39 am #

      I somehow missed books 5 and 6 so I definitely have to go back and read those. I think these 2 are my favorites so far. Love this series too!


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