Both a devastating portrait of today's Church of England and an audacious reworking of the central myth of Western culture, this novel opens as the parish of St. Mary-in-the-Vale is preparing for Easter. In his Palm Sunday sermon, the vicar explains that Christ's crucifixion and redemption are taking place every day, but he little suspects that, before the week is out, he and his entire congregation will be caught up in a latter-day Passion story that will tear apart their lives. As the week before Easter progresses, a number of shocking events unfold against a backdrop of meticulously observed religious services, giving the novel a chance to scrutinize High Church ritual, evangelical revivalism, and the ancestor worship of the English gentry. With an unforgettable gallery of characters ranging from a Holocaust survivor and an African princess to AIDS patients and Queen Elizabeth II, the story provides a dazzling panorama of contemporary society and throws down a challenge--to believers and nonbelievers alike--to consider anew the problems of suffering and evil.
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