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Propinquity by John Macgregor


by John Macgregor

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As child grows to man, Australian protagonist Clive Lean waits for exam results and know he's still "confusing God with the education authorities." Meanwhile his father assumes the mantle of "responsibility- and hard work - which has been to this century piety was to others." But times are changing as the Seventies come to Australia. Soon this self sufficient young man will be walking the hallowed grounds of 1970s Oxford colleges. A journey through cults, religious architecture, drug taking and love follows, crossing Dan Brown with Andrea Kaufmann’s Oxford Messed Up, and resulting in a mix of mythological mystery, Australian coming of age story, psychological tale of self-discovery, and Gnosticism reborn from a hidden tomb.

The first half of the novel tells of natural birth, death and coming of age, as the young man twists and turns in the winds of fate, trying to decide his path. Chance sends him to England. Fate and coincidence gather together the perfect investigative team. And a desire to change the world, one institution at a time, is nicely contrasted with the need to change ones self.

Serendipity plays a vital part in this tale, where Gnosticism is a true, lost path, and people who see what they want to see, ignore the mysterious truth of a brand new resurrection. “Her reposeful hands (are) clasped in front of her” and Clive’s “conscious mind seem(s)hardly to function” as mystery deepens in the depths of England’s history. But the story swings again to Australia, coming full circle, closing its gaps, and rescuing its protagonist at last from “that second tomb [of the] heart.”

Complex, world-spanning, history-shattering and more, Propinquity is an intriguing tale, told slowly, with some truly fascinating conversations and arguments behind its cool mystery and startling discoveries. Plenty of food for thought.

Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review. ( )
  SheilaDeeth | Oct 7, 2014 |
Propinquity starts off as a tale of young men in boarding school in Australia. I must admit it took me a bit to get used to both the writing style and the locale. There are some things that just don't make sense to an American audience unless you have some knowledge of Australia. It's also good I have a decent vocabulary...

The main characters are introduced and they are young men who just don't know where they are going in life. They seem to be meandering along. They graduate and seem to float into medical school as if it's "the thing to do." All except one - he goes off to "find himself." The main character Clive, suddenly finds himself at the head of the family corporation when his father dies unexpectedly. Problems ensue and he soon finds himself heading to England to finish his medical degree. There he meets a lovely young mother who decides to share a burning secret that she has kept for the longest time. This is where the supposed Dan Brown similarities pop in. But to me it really wasn't anything like a Dan Brown novel and that is both good and bad. It had the silliness of plot at the core of the whole "the Catholic Church has been lying to us for millenia" aspect but the characters were a touch more developed and interesting and to be honest had the book just followed these gentlemen to some sort of conclusion I think I would have enjoyed the book more.

It really seemed like two different books squished together for lack of complete definition of either one. The first one about the coming of age of young men in Australia had more promise - at least in my opinion. The second one about resurrecting a medieval queen was like a Keystone Cops adventure. I don't know - I am not one to shy away from the impossible in my reading; I do love a good time travel novel but it has to be presented with some semblance of plausibility and this just didn't have that to me. It just fell short in too many ways. I found it hard to believe that this young woman would give up her secret so easily. I found it hard to believe she would accept Clive sharing it so cavalierly and I found it hard to believe that this body would remain in stasis for 800 years and just arise. The plot needed more development to make me believe. I suspect I could have been made that believer but the start of the book had been written in such a way as to hold me as a reader at a remove. Perhaps it's an American vs. Australian way of looking at things. I don't know. But I just couldn't invest in the second plot and gnosis wasn't mine. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Feb 18, 2014 |
This was an interesting read. It was touted as “...a modern-day couple racing across continents, the law on their tail, to unravel the story’s riddles. It was published 17 years before the ‘The Da Vinci Code’.” After reading this I thought this was an international thriller that would uncover a religious conspiracy that would redefine and bring down the Christian Church.

It didn’t resemble the Da Vinci at all until over halfway through the book. In my opinion whoever wrote the back cover blurb did a major injustice to the work. Those who are expecting an international thriller will be very disappointed. However, I still thought it was a pretty good book and might have liked it more had it been accurately described.

The book starts with the main character Clive Edward when he is still in ‘high’ school in Australia. Then he moves on to university and we continue to follow him as he grows and his friends leave. More and more things happen in his life and Clive seems to be tossed by the seas of fate, the whole time smoking his Black Russians.

Finally, he washes up on the shores of England, where he is planning on finishing his medical degree. Here he meets a lovely woman in a business deal to sell some patent rights he inherited from his father. They hit it off and Clive discovers she’s the daughter of the man who is Dean of Westminster Abbey. She also hints she knows of secrets hidden in its depths. For some reason this captures Clive’s imagination and he wants to learn them. It has life changing consequences for all involved.

Overall I thought it was a pretty good book and I am glad I read it. I found the authors writing fun and interesting. Macgregor is/was an investigative journalist, and while newspapers are supposed to be written at an ‘8th’ grade level, Macgregor isn’t constrained to that in his novel. He has fun using big and unusual words throughout the work. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t filled with incomprehensible words, but he liked to put at least one new word in every chapter. I suppose the title ‘Propinquity’ might be a clue to that. Strange and humorous from beginning to end. ( )
  readafew | Jan 1, 2014 |
I received this book free in return for a review.

It is a well-written, humorous book with a unique plot.

The protagonist, Australian Clive Lean, amasses a fortune in a not completely ethical manner and travels to Oxford to complete his medical studies. He becomes friends with a girl called Sam whose father happens to be the Dean of Westminster Abbey. Sam has thus access to all parts of the Abbey and this leads to Clive being introduced to Berengaria, the queen of Richard the Lionheart (of Robin Hood fame). Though Berengaria has apparently been dead for 800 years, her body is strangely well-preserved owing to the extreme cold in the depths of the Abbey where it has lain.

In its latter half, the book becomes quite thrilling, as Clive, Sam and Clive’s student friends decide to attempt to bring Berengaria back to life ….

We are edified about both British history and Gnosticism, Berengaria having been a Gnostic.

I would strongly recommend this spiritual thriller, the author being extremely articulate (though his French isn’t quite up to par – “petit ?? bourgeoisie). The book is an enjoyable read. (Though I didn’t understand how one could “have gnosis”, like a spiritual fix.) ( )
  IonaS | Nov 30, 2013 |
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