I bought this book for the phrase whisky priest, expecting account of an alcoholic priest, but to my reading delight it turned out to be more than what I expected.
It is a story of a worldly priest on the run in a Mexican state where Catholicism has been outlawed and other priests have been either killed or forced to change their vocation, leaving him as the last messenger of God. The priest wanders through the state in an attempt to cross the borders amidst the fears getting killed and a longing for life. The misery of the priest has been compounded by this fondness of brandy, contemplation over his illicit relation with a woman at his last parish, his love for the illegitimate child.
In its description of state and its hunt Catholicism, the story discusses the futility of faith, of affluent parishes among starving classes, preaching and prayers for those who are struggling to make a living.
The novel depicts bare human instincts behind a mother carrying a dead child on her back, and then abandoning the same with no remorse. A priest fighting a crippled dog for a piece of bone for some meat attached to it, and eating the last chunk out of it when he thought he will spare some for the dog.
Graham green explores why the priest who is so worldly and so unlikely of habits to be a priest yet remains committed to the vocation. It makes you wonder why he needs to be the last surviving messenger of god in a state that is set to eliminate it. The compulsive fondness of the priest to brandy which endangers his life many times, the melancholic distrust and contradicting emotions that comes out in a crowded cell of a jail and the self righteous perusal of authority to serve its citizen food and not preaching. The dangers poor peasants put themselves in for the sake of their faith and their feeling of eternal damnation for not having performed rituals. All these keep you turning the pages wondering what lies next for him and keeps you gripped with your sympathies to the priest.
It is a about a character caught among faith, responsibility and his self. The interesting narrative of swings in human deeds and thoughts, and artful portrayal of minor characters makes the book worth reading. It is an elegant portrayal of a simple story by Graham Greene.
Level of Reading: Moderate