I was determined to get to Hilary Mantel eventually - and after Wolf Hall which was for me personally so disappointing I thought there was something wrong with me that I could not like a book which eveyrone was ga-ga about. I then came across Fludd a very small book in comparison to Wolf Hall by the way, just 186 pages so I was able to finish it overnight!
The story set in a bleak, superstitious, drab village of Featherhoughton and surrounds the curate Fludd who has been sent to help Father Angwin - and very soon we wonder is he what he is. At first Father Angwin thinks he is sent by the bishop to spy on him, once that notion is set aside Fludd joins in parish activities, pastoral visits (as best as he could in a rather unfriendly, unwelcoming neighbourhood), drinking whisky with Father Angwin till the wee hours and justgets on with it.
Add to the story a convent of suffering nuns under an autocratic, cruel Sister Superior - nuns who surreptitiously hate her guts but are too frightened by dogma and doctrine to do anything about it. Nuns who are supposed to "educate" youngsters and who seem to do it with a fierceness bordering on sheer cruelty.
The book appears to highlight the cruelty and the insular position of the Catholic church (at this particular point in time) and the vagaries of its higher officers who seemed to be completely out of it as far as village parishioners were concerned. Fludd at the end seems like a knight in shining armour who with one fell sweep is able to influence Father Angwin to do what he wants to do, deal with Sister Philomena and bring some light to some people's lives.
I was confused by the book though I did enjoy the reading of the story. I liked the descriptive way Mantel deals with the villagers, their way of life, even the loutishness of its inhabitants. However it confused me with what the plot was - an interesting, confusing book.