Father Francis

(creator: Rob Wyatt)

Father Francis Gold (who prefers to be called Father Frank) is the narrator throughout. He is a young, English, Catholic priest who is very conscious of his shortcomings as when he tells us, "I'd run out of ideas what to do when Ieft school" but then he was inspired with the perfect solution: to become a priest." He thought it over: "It was perfect: no real competition, job security, board and lodging included, decent working hours and no heavy lifting."

And, "as the priest shortage in England was pretty desperate", he thinks that "that was probably the only reason the church ... accepted me into the seminary". It was there that there had been a "fire that destroyed the kitchen", a "flood in the Lady Chapel, and the untimely death, of the seminary's herd of pigs. They hadn't all been my fault ... at least, none of them had been deliberate.".

But he certainly means well, and even when ordained, admits, "I thought it was about time I got around to really studying the Bible - I'd been meaning to for ages." This self-deprecating humour has its appeal.

Rob Wyatt (c1960 - ) was born in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, but grew up in Canterbury in Kent, where he attended Kent College and was an altar boy at the cathedral. After several jobs, he turned to computer programming, and in 1989 moved, with his wife Jean, to Florida on a one year contract. This became a series of full time appointments and he now lives at Fort Myers in Florida. He and his wife have two children and six cats.

Can I Be Frank? (2011)
Can I Be Frank? is a humorous novel that follows young Father Francis to his first parish in America where his confusing treatment at the American airport sounds as if it might well have been derived from the author's own experience.

Father Frank is not sure what to expect in his new parish, but certainly isn't prepared for what he finds. Having managed to alienate his parish's main benefactor, the highly sinister Gene Charmois, Frank soon finds himself in hot water with his Diocese.

Then, after a very odd and frightening experience, and the appearance of seemingly miraculous and unexplained images of first the Virgin Mary then of Elvis Presley (!), he finds he has stumbled across suspicious goings-on deep in the Florida orange groves, and gets into serious involvement in the desperate plight of illegal Mexican workers, a situation which he takes very seriously and when he shows real real compassion.

The story is told with humour throughout, as when Francis tells us, "I closed my eyes, lifted my head, and began to pray. Oh God, why has thou ... I stopped, annoyed. It always bugged me that when I began to pray, I seemed to lapse into ninteenth-century vicar mode. I also had no idea why I always looked up, but it seemed to help for some reason." And Francis knows all about "loneliness and uncertainty as to my vocation. I thought about offering up a quick prayer to Saint Gottschalk, patron saint of lost vocations, but there didn't seem much point."

Each chapter is headed by a mostly Old Testament quotation so the author obviously knew his Bible very well. He is in fact a practising Roman Catholic.

It makes an entertaining (and remarkably inexpensive) read, even if at times it is a bit longwinded, and would benefit from some editing.

Blooming Rose (2017)
Blooming Rose continues the story of Father Frank, the accident-prone, English, Catholic priest in America who gets himself involved in a search for missing mothers, eventually including his own mother, Rose, who had embarked on an unexpected love affair and bloomed accordingly. He is much helped by his old friend Karl, the local judge and second-hand car salesman who "had become a regular feature at church" and was soon to be confirmed as a Catholic and to marry his parish administrator. He seems just a bit too good to be true.

Now that the novelty of the situation has worn off, I found all this quite hard to read. It is very slow moving and long-winded, with little excitement but lengthy conversations and whole sections that could do with pruning. Judging by the Amazon reviews, there seem a number of American readers who find it entertaining, but I found the first book much more interesting so I shall not be reviewing any further books in the series.

There is very little about the author on the web.

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The cover does not really suggest the content.
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