The Final Retreat

A Novel

Stephen Hough

The Final Retreat

Stephen Hough

Distributed for Sylph Editions

180 pages | 5 x 7 1/2 | © 2018
Cloth $20.00 ISBN: 9781909631281 Published June 2018 World sales rights except India
At the heart of The Final Retreat lies the question of how far the idea of a priest as a ‘wounded healer’ can be stretched. It is written as a diary-cum-memoir by Father Joseph, a middle-aged priest whose faith and life are in tatters, who is sent on an eight-day silent retreat by his kindly, sympathetic bishop. Apart from short daily meetings with a spiritual director, he speaks to no one. But he writes. Page after page, exploring the state of his soul, the loss of his vocation, his sexual addiction, and the events which are destroying his life.
 
Influenced by Stephen Hough’s other life as a concert pianist and composer, the book’s structure echoes a complex musical composition, with returning themes and motifs as the story unfolds. Melodies are hinted at rather than fully sung. Ideas are deliberately left incomplete. Hough leaves readers to fill in the blanks and experience the work through their own unique perspectives. Beautifully produced, The Final Retreat is a visual and creative masterpiece that will linger in the mind like a haunting melody. 
 
Contents
Prologue
1. Arrival
2. Craigbourne
3. Father Neville
4. Lazarus
5. Memorare
6. Altar Boys
7. Masturbation
8. Jason
9. Wet Dreams
10. Gold Cufflinks
11. Altrincham Again
12. Bubble Burst
13. Father’s Death
14. Mornings
15. Malaga
16. Silver Jubilee
17. Wounded Healer
18. Roses and Thorns
19. Stripped Youth
20. Slippery Slope
21. My Late Mother
22. Infantilism
23. Loneliness
24. Gay Priests
25. Saved
26. Nijinsky
27. Kindness
28. Bedsits
29. Callow
30. Ronnie
31. Ten O’Clock in the Morning
32. Buggered
33. Fred Astaire
34. Tenderness
35. A Note
36. Leaving
37. Shame
38. Library
39. Farhan
40. Halfway
41. The Woman
42. Confession
43. The Line
44. The Jews Got It Right
45. Feelings
46. Goong
47. Mass
48. Addiction
49. Fake
50. Serpents, Poison, Sickness
51. Death and Hell
52. William
53. Magnetism
54. Discovery
55. Father Chiwetel
56. Blackmail
57. Ointment
58. Iscariot
59. Final Morning
60. The End
Epilogue
 
Review Quotes
Financial Times
"As well as performing and composing, the polymath has found time to write a novel about faith and desire."
Church Times
"Hough’s intermittently poetic prose is as precise as his music. He carefully paints a world of voracious desire and chronic loneliness, as the 60 short, tautly written chapters take us ever further into the protagonist’s mire. . . . Hough’s novel is important, brave, and controversial. It deserves to become a classic of its kind."
The Scotsman
"[Hough] is, without a doubt, a contemporary Renaissance man, a rampant polymath, whose retiring countenance belies a mind that never sleeps, never ceases to create... Hough's debut novel... reflects a love of writing down words that has been with him as long as he's been able to hold a pen."
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