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Doris GrumbachRichard Bausch has written a book distinguished by its distance from the customary first novel subject….Instead, he has written a perfectly wrought imaginative experience that comes to life at once, and stays alive throughout the entire extent of its telling….Monsignor Vincent Shepherd is aging, discouraged, tired and sick. He has had a serious heart attack and is assigned to a country parish in rural Virginia. Withdrawn and bitter, he's expecting death, but his visitors do not include that august personage. Instead a Grapes of Wrath family arrives, Duck Bexley, his wife and their five children….Bausch is concerned with discovering if Monsignor Shepherd can survive the onslaught of this unwashed, demanding family, if he can learn to accept and love the unlovable, if his Christianity will disintegrate before this severe test. Long before we reach the end and the answer, we have accepted as perfectly believable the person of the priest and the real and terrible presence of the family….All this is a tribute to Bausch's skill with words and characters, with the uncomfortableness of the human condition.
—Washington Post Book World