Friday, May 31, 2013

Dancing Priest

I just finished reading the first novel by Glynn Young, entitled Dancing Priest. This book came highly recommended by my online friend Bill who blogs at Cycleguy's Spin. The story begins by introducing us to two lifelong mates, Michael Kent and Thomas McFarland, who are finishing their studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Michael is a fifth year theology student who is a star on the university cycling team. Tommy is a fifth year architecture student who is on the university swim team. The two students are witnessing the aftermath of a dormitory fire and Michael reaches out to a displaced student named David Hughes, who now suddenly needs a place to bunk. David is a British history major who has come over to Scotland from UCLA, part of an academic plan that has been in place for some time. Due to some family trouble, his sister Sarah decides to come with him and enroll in Edinburgh as well. Sarah, a very talented artist, immediately catches the eye of Michael. Michael asks Sarah out for coffee and she rudely turns him down as just another pickup attempt. However, shortly thereafter, their paths cross again, and Sarah feels an attraction as well. Soon they become inseparable. However, lingering in the background is the issue of faith. Michael will very soon be ordained in the Anglican church, where he is planning on developing his ministry in Africa. Sarah is not religious and the thought of marrying Michael and living in the third world is a deal breaker. Ultimately, she breaks off the relationship and heads back to the states.

During this time, Michael wins a spot on the British cycling team that is headed to the Olympics. Michael becomes not only a star at the Athens games, but also a hero as he saves the life of several riders during a rockslide triggered by an earthquake. Michael excels despite the pain that he is living with from his broken heart. Shortly after the Olympics, Michael is ordained and instead of being assigned to Africa, he is sent to work at a parish in San Francisco, not all that far from where Sarah lives. Eventually, Sarah accepts God and, well, you can guess the rest.

I very much enjoyed this plot and the characters that Young has developed. I would say that his style leans toward simple, stripped down story telling. His writing does not contain multiple layers and story arcs. He does not spend time developing rich or complex scenaries. Yet his development is emotional, sweet, heartfelt, and uplifting. I now will dive into the sequel to this story, entitled A Light Shining.