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Peccavi

E. W. Hornung

Book Overview: 

How does a man who as committed a heavy sin — not a crime, but a sin with terrible consequences — atone for his behavior? What if the man is a priest of the Church of England? That is the central question of E. W. Hornung’s Peccavi (I have sinned). The Rev. Robert Carlton, rector of the rural parish of Long Stow, now finds not only his parishioners turned against him, but also his patron Wilton Gleed, for under English ecclesiastical law’s allowance of advowson, a patron (usually a notable) could in effect name a particular clergyman to a church living, or benefice, under his control. What the patron could not do, however, was to eject a rector from his church and his rectory; that was a matter for the local bishop, not him.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Look here! you stay where you are, Tom."

"With you, sir?"

"No, I must have a look; but one's enough."

"Not for me, Mr. Carlton. I follow you."

"Then you keep me where I am," said Carlton, sternly.

"All right, sir! You follow me!"

Next instant they were both through the breach, the builder first by the depth of his chest. And they stood up within, but were glad to crouch again out of the smoke. Already a dense reek hid the roof, and every moment added to the depth of that inverted sea. It was a sea of ineffectual currents, setting towards the[Pg 56] smashed windows, the new breach, the open door, but caught and diverted and sucked into the inky whirlpool that the wind made under the roof, and escaping only by chance fits and sudden starts. On the other hand, there was still air enough to breathe within a few feet of the ground, and with water it seemed as if something might yet be done. But it was no longer a very litt. . . Read More

Community Reviews

It's a long time ago that I lost sleep over a book. This one did it. Peccavi - 'I have sinned' - is a story about a man dealing with his sin and is a beautiful description of the humility and humiliation as well as the pride and glory and perhaps sentimentality associated with that. It set me thi...more

E W Hornung’s Peccavi uses that popular Victorian trope of the “fallen clergyman”. It says a great deal about Hornung’s story-telling ability that he can make a readable novel even out of this unpromising material. Only the last few chapters drip sentimentality.

Hornung gives his sinner the advan...more