Cover image for The miracle
The miracle
L'Heureux, John.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
221 pages ; 22 cm
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L'Heureux has been acclaimed as "[a] master storyteller ... elegant, cunning, and wickedly funny" ("The Washington Post"). Now, in a pitch-perfect, deeply satisfying work of fiction, he enters the world of an unorthodox young priest whose faith is put to the test.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the 1970s in South Boston, handsome young Father Paul LeBlanc is a troublesome priest. He blatantly protests the Vietnam War, discusses busing publicly (despite being admonished that "there is no theology of busing"), and is broad-minded about birth control and sex, endearing him to his confessors but not to his superiors. Banished to a New Hampshire beach parish to learn at the feet of saintly, dying Father Tom Moriarty, LeBlanc misses working with the poor and homeless and wrestles with matters of faith and his desire for sanctity. Then rectory housekeeper Rose Perez's 16-year-old daughter Mandy overdoses; Rose pleads to the Virgin Mary and Mandy awakens. Obsessed with Rose as the maker of what he considers a miracle, LeBlanc commits a mortal sin, starts dreaming of Rose and of attractive parishioner Annaka Malley, and begins to question his vocation, even without knowing that both women are in love with him. There is great humanity in this well-crafted story, expressed largely through the appealing characters, and a final message: choose life. --Michele Leber

Publisher's Weekly Review

L'Heureux (An Honorable Profession, etc.) takes a wry but revelatory look at the connection between faith and love in his latest novel, about a charismatic, self-absorbed, 34-year-old priest named Paul LeBlanc who gets transferred out of his South Boston parish for challenging church doctrine. LeBlanc finds himself adrift in his new assignment at a tiny New Hampshire seacoast parish, but once he settles in, he develops a close relationship with the erstwhile pastor, Father Moriarty, who is dying from ALS, and also with Moriarty's caretaker, an attractive, 30ish woman named Rose. The parish is rocked when Rose's wild teenage daughter, Mandy, is pronounced dead of a drug overdose, only to wake up suddenly. LeBlanc sees the incident as the miracle that represents the hidden reason for his move to New Hampshire, but everyone else remains skeptical, and the debate is rendered moot when Mandy subsequently dies in a motorcycle accident. Grief soon turns the attraction between Rose and LeBlanc into a physical affair, and while LeBlanc instantly regrets his lapse, he continues to drift from his clerical duties when he begins seeing a beautiful, troubled parishioner named Annaka Malley. L'Heureux's strength is his ability to expose the all-too-human foibles and flaws of his outstanding ensemble cast, as he connects the dots with short, punchy scenes that instantly get to the heart of the matter. As usual, L'Heureux also looks unflinchingly at a variety of tough moral issues, balancing the serious stuff with humor in a deceptively light style that makes this book entertaining as well as challenging. The formulaic resolution to the subplot involving Malley and LeBlanc is the one minor misstep here, but, overall, this is a balanced, wise book built around the life of a priest in a time when the clerical profession is under attack from a wide array of critics. Agent, Noah Lukeman. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It takes a miracle to shake the faith of young Father LeBlanc, who has stirred up the hierarchy with his worldly ideas. Poet/novelist L'Heureux is a former Jesuit. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.