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The Breath of Peace (The Hawk and the Dove…
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The Breath of Peace (The Hawk and the Dove Series) (2013)

by Penelope Wilcock

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Hawk and the Dove was one of my favourite books as a child, and I am so very happy that Penelope Wilcock has expanded her series beyond the original three. Like some of the other reviewers below, I re-read the original trilogy and then found and read the newer books that precede this one in the series. I think The Breath of Peace would be comprehensible to someone who hadn't read the first six books of the series, but I don't know why someone would want to read it exclusively. At the very least, I think it is a richer book if one reads it after Remember Me (Book 6 in the series), which introduces the two characters who are most prominent in this one.

The early chapters of this book are truly painful. William and Madeleine are newlyweds who, barely a year into their marriage, have slipped into the pitfalls of bickering, belittling, and deprecation that often trap the unsuspecting members of intimate relationships, and, especially, marriages. Though William has many academic and organizational skills, he is relatively inept as a farmer, and the ever-competent Madeleine is quick to point out his errors. Both end up feeling frustrated and angry, and it is evidence of Wilcock's skill as a writer that I, too, felt frustrated and angry as I watched them spar. (My husband, like some of the posters below, was unable to make it past the harsh banter).

However, the real gift of this book is in the advice that William and Madeleine receive from their minister, Father John, who individually counsels each of them and encourages them both to find and celebrate their strengths within the marriage and to treat one another with more patience and respect (although Wilcock, using john's voice) puts it far more eloquently). Although Father John refers to Christ often in his lessons and encouragement, the advice he gives is good, practical advice that would benefit most marriages as well as non-romantic relationships. The arguments that I found most jarring were ones that struck closest to home for me, and reading this book (like reading most of the earlier books in the series) has encouraged me to speak more cautiously and wisely in my own relationships with people around me. The simplicity of monastery life, and the similar simplicity of William and Madeleine's marriage, allows Wilcock to focus almost exclusively on issues of interpersonal relationships (and the importance of grace), rather than on plot. It is a slower read than many novels, and Wilcock's focus on character development does mean that the story feels a little belabored on occasion.

Readers of Wilcock's original trilogy may want to note that the four new books have changed in tone from the original three; there is now no longer a frame narrative. This gives the new books (especially this one) a very differing feel than the originals had, and, although I enjoyed The Breath of Peace, I still think that The Hawk and the Dove is (by far!) the best in the series. ( )
  palaephata | Sep 11, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It took me a bit to write this review once receiving the book because I had to re-read the first two books then read the other four. I'm glad I put in the time to do this; I'm not sure I would have followed all that happened if I had not. I do enjoy these characters, and at this point, they almost feel like family. Of all the books in this series I've read, this is my least favorite. At the beginning, I wanted to strangle both William and Madeleine! I felt that the narrative concerning their marital woes went on longer than necessary. I was relieved when the action shifted back to the monastery. The last half of the novel redeemed it. I will definitely read the remaining two books in the series. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Jun 25, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As an avid reader, I enjoy reading all kinds of books. Although this book is not what I would normally read for pleasure, I was pleasantly surprised. I appreciate the author's ability to write an engaging, interesting, and realistic story about nothing more than the struggles of marriage and daily life in the 1300s. As a young adult who is not married nor religious, those aspects of the book did not interest me. However, I spent a lot of time thinking about the time period, day to day living, and the differences between back then and today. This book definitely sparked some interest about that time period in me. It is obvious that the author did a lot of research and was very thoughtful and intentional with her writing. I hope to check out similar books in the future. ( )
  KWROLSEN | Jun 25, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Breath of Peace, by Penelope Wilcock is the seventh book in The Hawk & Dove Series. I have not read any of the first six books so I was pleasantly surprised that this story can stand on it's own. In this book, the protagonists (Madeline and William) have been married for a year, living on a small homestead in 14th century England. It is painfully evident that their relationship is far from warm. I found myself very uncomfortable as I read their dialogue, wondering what in the world would make two people who seemingly dislike one another so much to have gotten married in the first place.

As the story progresses, the reader finds out that these are older people, in their late 40's, who have never been in a relationship like this before. William had been in the monastic order for 30 years and Madeline had been a "healer" who lived and cared for herself most of the time.

A thread which they are both attached to, is Madeline's brother, Abbot John, who they are both close to and greatly admire. Through differing reasons, they each spend time with Abbot John and receive guidance concerning their relationship. As a Christian themed story, Abbot John's guidance is directly from interpretation of the Bible.

As an atheist, I did not find anything hard-nosed or demanding in the guidance given. In fact, Christian or not, one can read and feel good. Abbot John (via Ms Wilcock) gives gentle guidance of common sense. We see the difficulties of working on a relationship, and the joys when it all comes together.

Descriptives of self-sustaining life for a family in the 1300's is well put, from attire to care of livestock. There is also interesting insight into the workings of a Monastery from this time period. Politics are not brought into the story, neither are strong religious views. As such, I enjoyed this story of a couple coming together as well as harmony that is created in the Benedictine Monastery which is the setting for much of the story. ( )
  PallanDavid | Jun 18, 2016 |
The Breath of Peace continues 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.

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.) ( )
  vintagebeckie | Jun 3, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them...
---John 20:21 NIV
I am the fool whose life's been spent between what's said and what is meant.
Carrie Newcomer
If you want to create evil in the world, all you have to do is pick on a little kid.
Clay Garner
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
Mary Anne Radmacher
Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.
Robert Brault
Dedication
For my dear friend Kay Bradbury who prayed me through the writing of so many stories.
First words
An owl hooted, soft and eerie, in the blackness between the dripping trees that bordered and hung menacing over the lane.
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