TALES from Lindford is the fourth of Catherine Fox’s Lindchester Chronicles, and it arrived like sunshine in the cold, bleak spring of this year, swooping us back to her much loved fictional diocese, to the characters whose antics and passions make us smile and cry, to the wildness and healing rhythms of nature, to music and wine and raucous laughter.
Beginning with the New Year parties of 2020, it ends a year later with a ruined Christmas and no end in sight to Covid. Not surprisingly, there is something jagged and unfinished about this volume: a note of lament, of time lost and relationships diminished, of the depression and helplessness that we have all felt in the face of the unknown.
That helplessness has also brought to light injustices. Even as lives become more constricted in Lindchester, there is an opening up to human miseries that it has been easy to ignore: the miseries of nail bars and car washes, the children exploited through county lines. Will things change for the better out of this? Perhaps on the small scale.
Jessica Rogers, the daughter of estranged parents, is obsessed with the moon, and keeps a moon diary. Her diligence binds the year together, the waxing and waning moon representing both our fragility and our continuity. Brief life is here our portion. And some estrangements heal through the grim months.
Once again, Fox, with an acute ear for liturgy and hymnody, and the lightest and kindest of touches, shows us what it might be like to live in a world where God exists and where love and mercy may yet have the last word. As for me, I have emulated the troubled teenage Jess, and acquired an app that shows the phases of the moon. Time may not heal, but its constancy helps.
The Revd Angela Tilby is a Canon Emeritus of Christ Church, Oxford.
Tales from Lindford
Marylebone House £12.99
Church Times Bookshop £10.99