Apparently it is unusual for one Ignatius novelist to review another, but I cannot resist chatting about Fiorella de Maria’s excellent legal thriller Do No Harm. This is partly because, like De Maria, I am a Catholic migrant to the United Kingdom and, to a certain extent (for I live in Scotland, not England), the legal, medical and ecclesiastical systems she describes affect me, too. And as I read her story, I began to recognize other aspects, and perhaps actual personalities, of Catholic British life. Only a million Catholics in England and Wales bother go to Mass on Sunday; British Catholics live their devotional life in a small pond.
For my birthday I received a copy of the recently released Ceremony of Innocence by Dorothy Cummings McLean. I’d read the synopses and was intrigued, but wanted to find out just where the author went with all those elements in her debut novel. I was pleased by the quality of the writing – the story drew me in easily and engaged me in the plot and characters. This is important, because if “Catholic” authors are going to escape the “Catholic literature ghetto” (you know – that place where people buy “Catholic works” in order to support the authors, not because they necessarily enjoy the stories), then first and foremost the authors need to be high quality artists. If this is what McLean can do in her first novel, I have high hopes for her later efforts.