April22-Review-3x2-Beyond Collar

“Can a damaged child with mental health issues, a history of self-harm and suicide attempts become a successful priest?” asks the blurb of Mark Edwards’ memoir. It’s an important, and interesting, question. The book details how Edwards navigated his first curacy, and how he deals with tensions at work, his own mental health challenges and a crisis of faith. It’s strength, undoubtedly, lies in his willingness to openly discuss each and every aspect of his life.

But this is also its weakness. This tell-all autobiography names and shames real people and church communities that Edwards felt unsupported or let down by. There are also regular references to the priest’s active sex life. While he’s not explicit, reading about the “hooker boots” and “rubber skirt” he bought his wife for Christmas felt inappropriate. Edwards’ defence is to say it’s “a pity that the Church is not more open about sexuality” but it’s doubtful whether this book is a helpful answer to that problem.