The Hardest Thing to Do

The Hardest Thing to Do

4.6 13
by Penelope Wilcock
     
 

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A leader is making his way home. A priory has been torched. And now an enemy is knocking at the door.

Prior William has caused a lot of pain in his time and is known for being an evil man. So when his own priory is burned to the ground and he seeks refuge with the brothers of St. Alcuin, everyone is quite uncomfortably surprised.

The

Overview

A leader is making his way home. A priory has been torched. And now an enemy is knocking at the door.

Prior William has caused a lot of pain in his time and is known for being an evil man. So when his own priory is burned to the ground and he seeks refuge with the brothers of St. Alcuin, everyone is quite uncomfortably surprised.

The newly installed Abbot John faces the first challenge of his leadership as the brothers debate about mercy and justice, revealing their innermost thoughts and fears in coming face-to-face with a real enemy. After all, is it not positively ludicrous to invite a wolf in to live with the sheep? Yet, where is the beauty of the gospel without the risk of its grace?

Penelope Wilcock takes us on an imaginative journey into a world rife with hostility and pain, exploring the complexities of grace, the difficulties of forgiveness, and the cautions of building trust. Her intimate knowledge of the human spirit will challenge our very own prejudices as we, along with her characters, are forced to ask ourselves, “What is the hardest thing to do, and will anyone actually do it?”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781433526558
Publisher:
Crossway Books
Publication date:
07/28/2011
Series:
The Hawk and the Dove Series
Pages:
252
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“When I reached the last page of The Hardest Thing to Do, I experienced an overwhelming sense of peace. Abbot John and his monks are not the only ones whose hearts and lives are ripe for change; Penelope Wilcock’s legion of readers may find themselves altered as well. Mercy, grace, and forgiveness are woven throughout the story with a deft hand, as we meet a community of God’s faithful servants who are genuinely flawed yet always sympathetic. The descriptive passages are poetic, and the medieval details evocative, with a rich sense of time and place. I offer my highest praise and most heartfelt recommendation: you will love this novel!”
Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times best-selling author, Mine is the Night and Bad Girls of the Bible

“Penelope Wilcock has written a novel as deep and contemplative as the monks whose stories she tells. Her intimate knowledge of medieval monastic life sweeps you into the past, yet the struggles she chronicles are timeless. This book is not toss-away entertainment; it’s literature that pours from a poetic soul. Putting it down at the end of the day was the hardest thing to do.”
Bryan M. Litfin, Professor of Theology, Moody Bible Institute; author, The Sword, The Gift, and Getting to Know the Church Fathers

“Beautiful, profound, moving, and spiritual, this book is written out of the deep well that is Penelope Wilcock. As the reader is drawn to live in the ancient monastery of St. Alcuin and share the daily challenges of the community struggling to receive the grace of God and bring it into their world, each one of us comes to ask: 'What is the hardest thing to do?' and, 'Can I do this, with God's help?'”
Donna Fletcher Crow, author, Glastonbury: The Novel of Christian England and The Monastery Murders

“James the apostle wrote that ‘mercy triumphs over judgement,’ but some of the brothers of St. Alcuin’s Abbey find vengenance more satisfying than forgiveness in Wilcock’s delightful tale of medieval monastic life. The Hardest Thing to Do is wonderfully accurate to time and place, and perceptive in its treatment of the strife which can afflict even the people of God.”
Mel Starr, author, The Unquiet Bones, A Corpse at St. Andrew’s Chapel, and A Trail of Ink

"I am encouraged that your new book will be released soon—it's like the promise of spring to me—something precious to hold in my heart until the day comes."
Dorothy Bode, mother to eleven (so far...), Minneapolis, Minnesota

Meet the Author

PENELOPE WILCOCK is a full-time author living in Hastings, Sussex, on the southeast coast of England. Her blog, Kindred of the Quiet Way, is about a simple and spiritual Christian lifestyle. Her other books in The Hawk and the Dove series are The Hawk and the Dove, The Wounds of God, and The Long Fall.

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The Hardest Thing to Do 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
msuzy More than 1 year ago
It actually makes you think. The book offers insight into the cloistered life of a different era. But more important it gives new insights into yourself as you contemplate what actually is "The Hardest Thing To Do" This is not the type of book I usually read. Butnthere was no way that I would not finish it.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Penelope Wilcock in her new book “The Hardest Thing to Do” Book Four in The Hawk and the Dove series published by Lion Hudson returns us to the monastery of St Alcuin. From the back cover: 14th century Yorkshire: the time of Chaucer. The Hardest Thing to Do starts one year after the end of the third book, The Long Fall. The peaceful monastery of St Alcuin’s is settling down and adjusting to the new abbot who has be chosen to take the place of Father Peregrine. Then a deeply detested enemy, Prior William, arrives seeking refuge. Reluctantly taking in the man who so ill-treated their much-loved former leader, the upended community must address old fears and bitterness while warily seeking reconciliation. But will William the refugee spread poison, or receive healing? In her fourth book in the series, Penelope Wilcock wrestles with the difficulties of forgiveness and the cautions of building trust. What is truly the hardest thing to do? Welcome back to St. Alcuin. Ms. Wilcock is giving us the first of three sequels to the celebrated The Hawk and the Dove trilogy takes place one year after the end of “The Long Fall”. What would you do if an old enemy came to the door seeking refuge? Prior William is not loved nor trusted but he is telling them a different story. How are they supposed to handle this? This is fascinating stuff. Betrayal, Forgiveness and Trust are just some of what has to be dealt with. Ms. Wilcock is a highly gifted author who knows how to give us deeply human characters that have strong emotions. Ms. Wilcock has given us a unique story that will capture your attention as you read and flip pages as fast as possible. I recommend this book highly. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Lion Hudson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of THE HARDEST THING TO DO by Penelope Wilcock from Kregel in exchange for an honest review. It is the fourth book in the Hawk and the Dove series. I really enjoy this series. The other books were all captivating and left me with a warm feeling. This one is no exception to that rule. Welcome to the world of St. Alcuin’s Abbey. The people are amazing and heartfelt. Everyone is truly realistic. I loved immersing myself in the 1300s. It isn’t something you get to do every day, but it is something Penelope Wilcox will help you to do with each of her books. My favorite part of all is getting inside of the characters’ heads to experience their emotions, reasoning, and thoughts of The One. There is bound to be one character, if not more, in this story who will enchant you to no end. If you’re like me, you will end up liking everyone as you read about their strengths and weaknesses. It will also inspire deep religious conversations. Five stars! I highly recommend this series and in particular this installment. The Hawk and the Dove series is one to treasure on your bookshelves.
Gala2 More than 1 year ago
The Hardest Thing to Do by Penelope Wilcock, the fourth book in The Hawk and the Dove opens after the death of Father Peregrine, just as the new abbot returns to take command. But the peace of Lent is disturbed by news of a fire at a nearby community of Dominicans, led by Prior William, known for harsh rules. The previous books have shown what love looks like in a community, how growth can come from loss, but this is so much harder. This is an enemy, this is a man that we desire to see brought low, but at the same time his world has been so utterly destroyed. This book can be read without any knowledge of the previous installments in the series, but I would recommend reading at least the chapter of The Wounds of God featuring Prior Williams. Even if someone doesn't normally like historical or Christian fiction, these books are a raw, honest look at people, at the body of Christ, and how he works through people. I've really enjoyed the previous books and am looking forward to reading the next installments. I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.
grapes63 More than 1 year ago
Penelope Wilcock writes another rich Historical novel about the brothers who live in Saint Alcuin's abbey. One of the characters in "The Hardest Thing to Do" is Prior William. He first appears in the novel titled "The Wounds of God." In that novel, I hated the way Prior William acted toward Abbot Peregrine at Saint Dunstan's monastery. In The Hardest Thing to Do, Prior William experiences a fire. He arrives at Saint Alcuin's looking for help from Abbot John and the brothers. Although Father Peregrine has died, there is still a deep feeling of love for him among the community. I especially liked reading about the brothers' fight among themselves about whether to make this helpless once cruel brother leave the monastery or let him stay there after his wounds are healed. While reading I realized again how difficult it is to forgive and give mercy to those people who hurt us. It is indeed very hard for these men to forgive and forget. I also became better acquainted with The Lenten season. There is a new brother whom I really like, Brother Conradus. He struggles to find his gift or talent. I really could relate to his struggles. I love The Hawk & The Dove Series. I can't wait to read the next one. Each book sheds light on the fact that no one is perfect. goodreads.com/author/show/88448.Penelope_Wilcock/blog lionhudson.com/page/index
Theophilusfamily More than 1 year ago
"The Hardest Thing to Do" is book four in a most wonderful series. I marvel at the way Penelope has imagined the whole world of St. Alcuin's Abbey, peopling it with fine, deeply human characters and plotting it with startling surprises and satisfying resolutions, and then giving us that world through her novels. If a monastic community in the 1300s sounds too far removed from your daily life to be remotely relatable, then think again. The men of St. Alcuin's are each distinct unto themselves (and they become more themselves as you meet them in each episode) but they are Everyman too. The essential struggles of being human- choosing and renouncing, becoming and accepting, receiving and losing, growing and remembering- are their struggles, and yours and mine too. The other thing I really enjoy about this series is their integrity, by which I mean that they have no pretense. They're not a story varnished with "Christianity" so that they can stay within the bounds of "Christian Fiction." Instead, they're the stories of men who've sworn to lay down their very lives for a Risen Christ. The brothers' preferences and attitudes, their time and energy, their animosity and comradeship, their doubts and prayers and work and calling- it finds its grounding in the Gospel. Because of this, and thanks to the sensitive heart of the author, the character's conversations and meditations (and most of their meditation is really wrestling with God!) show us what they're learning about life and the One who gives it. There's a lot for a thoughtful reader to think about, and it all belongs to the characters of the story. It's not an awkward sermonette from an author, who interrupts the story to deliver a Christian PSA. Because of this, if a non-religious friend thought the books sounded interesting, I'd loan them in a heartbeat. If I've piqued your curiosity at all, do yourself the favor and get this series onto your shelf
K-Mess More than 1 year ago
One year after book 3 ends, the monks at St. Alcuin's are waiting for their new Abbott, Father John, to arrive. While they wait, they busily work to prepare for the upcoming Easter season, which will bring hundreds of guests to the monastery. John's arrival starts a period of adjustment for the everyone withing the walls of St. Alcuin's, especially for John himself. Formerly the infirmary man of the monastery, he finds himself struggling with the transition from healer to his new position of authority. Just as things are beginning to settle down, an old enemy from the priory's past, Prior William of St. Dunstan's, knocks at the door in need of help. The wounds from his feud with their former leader, Father Peregrine, still sting. Can the monks inside set aside their feelings of hatred and help a fellow brother in need? I was not at all familiar with The Hawk and The Dove Series before I opened this novel, so I didn't have much to form an initial opinion on. Based on the description on the back cover, I assumed that this was going to be another medieval story featuring monks, knights, and pretty women in distress. I was surprised to find that was not the case in The Hardest Thing to Do. The novel chronicles the daily lives of the monks who live within the wall of St. Alcuin's Monastery. While this aspect was charming, it was also one of the novel's downfalls for me. First, there are a lot of characters to keep track of. Thankfully, Ms. Wilcock includes a guide with the names of all the characters throughout the series. I did, however, find myself checking in the front of the book to remember which character does what. Second, the daily actions of the various brothers sometimes distracted from the main plot. The central plot itself was great, but I found myself getting bored in places, because the story kept sidetracking. I will concede, that these subplots were probably necessary, because in each case the monks share what they find to be the hardest thing to do in life, adding to the overall theme. My favorite part of the novel was the message of forgiveness and love. Unfortunately,our sinful natures make this very hard for us to do. However, the Bible is very clear on the matter. Jesus says in Matthew 18:21-22, "Then Peter came and said to him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'" This means that there should be no limit to the amount of times that we forgive someone for wronging us. The Bible is also clear on the matter of showing love to those around us. Matthew 22:39 says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." I think this passage is pretty clear. Show love to others. Be kind and compassionate. It was nice to be reminded of these important points alongside the monks of St. Alcuin's. Forgiveness and showing love aren't always on the forefront of my thinking, but reading this novel brought them back into focus for me, and I hope it will for you who choose to read it too.
Carla25 More than 1 year ago
In 2011, Penelope Wilcock came out with a fourth book in the Hawk and the Dove series, entitled The Hardest Thing To Do. This book contains more small vignettes about monks in the St. Alcuin Abbey. There are a few differences in this book. There is one main storyline in this book, instead of many small ones. This book follows the monks and their reaction to a less than honorable man seeking refuge in their Monastery. I missed the different monks and the variety of life lessons they learned in the first three books in this series. I still quite enjoyed this book, but I liked the setup of the trilogy better. Another difference in this book is the missing thread of the girl as a narrator and her mother as the storyteller. I felt that this common thread held the mini stories together quite nicely. Because this book had the same storyline throughout it, it didn't need the common thread. As a Christian, I gained a sense of peace reading this book. I was so emotionally invested in this book, I felt empathy and sympathy for the monks in St. Alcuin Abbey. I loved learning about the culture of a monastery, something I previously knew nothing about. Anyone with a love of God would do well to absorb this series, and enjoy every minute of it. Even people with no religious investment would enjoy learning about a different culture and a different way of life. I highly recommend this entire series and eagerly await the next book. I received this book and the preceding trilogy for free from Crossway, a Christian publishing company.
ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
The Hardest Thing to Do by Penelope Wilcock is the long awaited follow up to the Hawk and the Dove trilogy. This book is nearly impossible to classify in a genre. It's not a true mystery, certainly not a romance, and it's not a thriller. Yet this novel is a read with tremendous power. Brother John is becoming Father John and taking over for the beloved Father Peregrine as abbot of St Alcuin's monastery. He is nervous about the new responsibilities, but his burden becomes much heavier when an old enemy, Father William, seeks refuge after his monastery was burned by vengeful villagers in retaliation for the monks ruthless power and money-seeking. Brother Thomas has reason to hate William and stirs up the feelings of the other brothers against the man, until a shocking act changes everything. Wilcock's writing is never sensational or over-the-top. This is a story about men who call themselves Christians trying to deal with the hardest thing Christ asks us to do: forgive and show mercy. How that decision weighs on the various men at St Alcuin's is as the heart of this story, and how they will be changed by their choices. The story has much to say to us today and raises questions that are still not easily answered. I hadn't read the Hawk and the Dove trilogy prior to this, but I will certainly seek them out after reading this thought-provoking story.
JuneMermaid More than 1 year ago
Penelope Wilcock's forth book in The Hawk and Dove series, The Hardest Thing To Do, is truly a masterful and uplifting glimpse into the depths and heights of the human spirit. Extremely well researched and blessedly unbiased, Ms. Wilcock's characters introduce readers to the beautiful and often misunderstood world of 14th century monastic life. Filled with complex relationships and personal drama, as the human condition necessarily demands, this novel adds most beautifully the dimension faith plays in healing wounds both physical and spiritual in the lives of these religious men. Enhancing her story is Ms. Wilcock's simple and rhythmic prose that captures the feeling of the Benedictine ascetic life. Truly a pleasure to read and a most welcome change of pace. I look forward to reading more from this series.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
This latest in Wilcock's The Hawk and the Dove series takes readers into the world of a fourteenth-century monastery struggling to forgive an old enemy seeking refuge. The first of three sequels to the celebrated The Hawk and the Dove trilogy takes place one year after the end of the third book, in the early fourteenth century. A peaceful monastery is enjoying its new abbot, who is taking the place of Father Peregrine, when an old enemy arrives seeking refuge. Reluctantly taking in Prior William, the upended community must address old fears and bitterness while warily seeking reconciliation. But can they really trust Prior William? In her fourth book in the series, The Hardest Thing To Do, Penelope Wilcock wrestles with the difficulties of forgiveness and the cautions of building trust. Taking the form of journal entries, her story will delight the imaginations of readers captivated by a time and place far distant from our current world. Her timeless themes, however, will challenge our prejudices today as we, along with her characters, are forced to ask ourselves, "What is the hardest thing to do?" I received this book compliments of Christian Blog Alliance for my honest review and it truly does take you back in time to a much simpler way of life living amongst the monks. Here we are reminded of their disciplined ways of taking care of gardens, to a strict call to prayer and tending to the poor and ill before there were doctors. However not all the monastery's do the bidding that the people believe they should. When a fire burns down St. Dunstan's, they learn that the monks that resided there were after a much greater need than helping the people, the need for power at any and all costs. I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars and even though I haven't read the previous 3 in the series, this one can be read as a stand alone.
DSaff More than 1 year ago
A new Abbott (Father John) is coming to St. Alcuin's and the brothers are preparing for his arrival while continuing their lives of service - Lent is upon them. The life is difficult and there aren't any luxuries, but as the brothers tell the story, the reader is drawn into life in the monastery. There are blessings in the life of service as well as hardships. But, as with any story, conflict arises when a prior enters their lives and tries to cause disruption. What will they do with him? Why was his abbey burned to the ground? Themes of hard work, worship, giving, and forgiveness are prominent, and asking for forgiveness seems to be the most difficult thing to do. I enjoyed this book because I love historically based novels. While I haven't read the trilogy that precedes this book, I am looking forward to picking up "The Hawk and the Dove" and taking the journey. The characters are realistic and the setting well researched. This book will make a great gift for readers who enjoy history, and book clubs will find some interesting topics to discuss. Thank you to Net Galley and Crossway for the opportunity to read this on my Nook!
LauraN More than 1 year ago
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. Disclaimer: I did receive an early reviewer copy of this book in exchange for a review (not necessarily a positive review).