The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy Review
A couple months ago, Ben and I finished reading The Hawk and The Dove Trilogy, comprise of The Hawk and the Dove, The Wounds of God, and The Long Fall. If I had to sum them up in one word, I’d say “life-changing”. I can hardly believe how much God used these books to change me- for the better!
This story takes place in two settings- one, the home of a girl and her family in England in the early 1900s, the other about a circle of monks in the 13th century. The girl’s mother tells her stories about a distant relative, and all his adventures as a monk.
When I first heard this description, I wasn’t too sure about the book….somehow, monks just didn’t capture my interest. But, since it was recommended by a person whose literary opinions I value above most others, and since Ben remembered liking it as a kid, we plunged in. I’m so glad we did; it’s been a rich and rewarding experience!
You’ll laugh and cry, you’ll have trouble putting it down, and most rewarding, you’ll likely see your life shaped and molded gently, quietly- in ways that only the very best in literature can.
In spite of being centuries apart from the world we live in now, the real-life struggles and triumphs experienced by the characters are so relatable. Sometimes I felt like I was reading about me, or someone I know.
The first book, The Hawk and the Dove, gives glimpses into the life of the girl, Melissa, and the monastery. Melissa is a young girl who loves to hear stories and spend time with her mother, as she grows up in her penny-scrimping family with three other sisters. Melissa’s mother is a delightful person. Here’s a small piece from a description of her: “My mother. She was not a pretty woman, and never thought to try and make herself so. She had an uncompromising chin, firm lips, a nose like a hawk’s beak and unnerving grey eyes. Eyes that went straight past the outside of you and into the middle, which meant that you could relax about the torn jersey, the undone shoe laces, the tangled hair and the unwashed hands at the dinner tables, but you had to feel very uncomfortable indeed about the stolen sweets, the broken promise, and the unkind way you ran away from a little sister striving to follow you on her short legs.” You’ll meet Father Peregrine, the abbot of the community, who’s life is gradually molded into one of perfect beauty- through trials and afflictions anyone would shirk from. A fascinating tale unwinds about Father Peregrine’s past, and the daughter he didn’t realize he had. You’ll be introduced to Father Matthew, the all-too-strict novice master. You’ll get to know, and likewise, grow to love, Brother Tom, who starts as a novice and becomes one of the most beloved characters. Journey with him through all his ups and downs as he meanders through life at the monastery. And that is only the beginning!
The Wounds of God is even better than the first book. A transformed Father Peregrine becomes good friends with all those under his charge, as he melts them with his infamous quote, “Tell me about it.” He has a way of getting into their hearts and sympathizing with their struggles. He and Brother Tom are fast friends by now, and Brother Tom is with Father Peregrine through everything.
Read about how Father Peregrine out-wits those who seek to humiliate him, put him down, and cast aside God’s love in a debate amongst all the abbots as to Old Testament law, God’s justice, and His love.
You’ll be inspired by Tom’s down-to-earth care for those he loves. You’ll hurt for Brother Francis, who finally wavers to all his pain and insecurities, well hidden behind lighthearted jesting and smiles, and pours it all out to Father Peregrine. You’ll triumph with Brother James, who finally discovers who Jesus really is- and who he is.
The Long Fall is an incredibly real book, detailing the last months of Father Peregrine’s life. He suffers from a stroke which leaves him unable to communicate. Slowly, Brother Tom and others help him build his speech back up. Brother Tom learns about showing love even when it hurts, as he gets over his urge to simply run from the situation and let Peregrine be cared for by those in charge of the infirmary. He learns to open his heart to others, slowly, and share of the incredible hurt he’s suffering. Father Peregrine learns to lean on God all the more, and listen to his friends, who remind him of the things he’s always believed before.
Best of all, though, is the doctrine wound throughout the book. Little bits and pieces reminding us of God’s love for us, of Christian community, of forgiveness, of the trump of love and grace over judgment. Of the triumph of tenderness and compassion. It’s a breath of fresh air, and so real.
Just listen to this quote, from The Wounds of God: “A funny thing happens with the Bible. It acts a bit like a mirror. People who come to it resentful and critical find if full of curses and condemnation. People who come to it gentle and humble find it full of love and mercy. The truth of God is not a truth like ‘cows have four legs’ is true. God’s truth is him, himself. There are no short cuts. You have to get to know him.”
Or this one, the very last line in the book: “Love has no defences, and you only know it’s love when it hurts.”
I hope you’ll decide to pick this book up and read it- and may your life be as blessed by it as mine has permanently been. I know I’ll never be the same person, simply because of reading this book. That’s the great thing about reading literature- it works on you and molds you without your even realizing it, till one day it suddenly hits you- “Something has influenced me and changed me for the better.” The characters are so inspiring, but their struggles are so real that they feel touchable and attainable, instead of some far-off picture of perfection.