My review of Stephen Cottrell’s The Nail, with some mention of Walking Backwards to Christmas, on VL today.
I first became aware of Stephen Cottrell as a writer (rather than as the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford) late last year, when I reviewed his Advent book, Walking Backwards to Christmas, for The Tablet. Walking Backwards is a stunning book: a collection of short, punchy narratives around the Nativity, from the prophetess Anna in the temple all the way back to Moses and the burning bush. It is always compelling, often disturbing and sometimes, intensely, distressing. (“For there is another child,” says Rachel, whose baby boy lies cradled in the hands of a murderous soldier. “And I have heard of this other child. He is danger and threat to my child. … A new king born in Bethlehem, just as the prophets had said. And Herod’s pride erupted. His anger kindled. And when he cries little children die in the streets.”)
The book troubled me to such an…
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