A Scribner Paperback Fiction
Reading Group GuideClerical Errors
From the highly acclaimed author of The Prince of West End Avenue
comes Clerical Errors,
a wickedly funny and genuinely moving novel about faith, love, and transgression. Despite a severe lack of piety and the inconvenient fact of his Jewish birth, Edmond Music chooses the priesthood as a career. Thanks to the generosity of a former lover, he is now entrenched at an English estate with a fabulous library, much to the Vatican's chagrin. There he plays chess with his friend W. C. Catchpole -- who lost his faith during wartime and now rails against Catholicism -- and carries on a clandestine affair with his longtime housekeeper, Maude Moriarty. He would rather immerse himself in studying an eighteenth-century Jewish mystic known as "the Pish" than contend with the growing interest in a Shakespeare folio gone missing on his watch. The arrival of his nemesis, the American priest Twombly, and Maude's religious revival force Edmond to reexamine his identity and confront his past.Discussion Points
1. Consider the epigraph of the novel -- a poem called "The End of the World," by Archibald MacLeish, in which a lively circus is interrupted by a more imposing spectacle. How does Isler's narrative echo MacLeish's poem?
2. "Sipping a Calvados in a bar in the rue de Malengin...I discovered to my surprise that I had just died" [p. 11]. At the outset of Clerical Errors,