Be Near Me was a book I was reading by Scottish author, Andrew O'Hagan, for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge.
I had first heard Andrew O'Hagan speak on one of our national radio stations and apart from being totally mesmerised by his gorgeous Scottish accent I was also drawn in to how passionately he spoke about books and writing.
Be Near Me tells the story of Father David Anderton, an English priest who has moved to a small Scottish town to work in the parish there. The story moves back and forth between the present day and David's early life growing up with his parents, his university days at Oxford and his early life in the priesthood in Rome. In present day David is clearly a lonely and disconnected man which leaves him open to building a tenuous relationship with some local high school children who in their own ways are feeling disconnected from their families and their lives. This growing friendship forms the basis for what happens in the latter parts of the story and the flashback scenes to David's past help inform us in seeing how David got to this stage of his life.
I did not find this an easy book to read in terms of the structure - it did come together at the end and all made sense but I struggled with seeing the author's path at times. Having said that, this writing is beautiful and strong - it is probably not a book that hits you with it's impact straight away (well, not for me anyway) but I know I will be thinking about it's style and content for a while to come. I will also be on the look out for more Andrew O'Hagan novels.