Redemption — A Novel by Ian Prattis
…is the story of Callum Mor, an allegory for the life difficulties I experienced when I wrote the manuscript some 40 years ago. This novel takes the reader on an epic journey, chronicling Callum Mor's passage through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation.
Callum Mor, the epic main character, takes the reader on a deep Hero's Journey. It opens with his childhood in the Hebrides, islands off the NW coast of Scotland. He draws wonderful mentors to him; his schoolteacher, who lights the spark of a bard in him, animal friends such as an otter, a brutal fisherman who shields his darkness from the boy as he matures. Callum Mor thrives despite the poverty of his home in an island nurturing with gentle humor and adventure. This novel moves from the rhapsody of Callum Mor's idyllic childhood through tragedies to the derelict zone of his alcoholic drowning out of pain and suffering.
His father, a seaman longing to be at home, is driven to madness by his inability to create a place for himself on the island. His brother is murdered on the docks at Montreal. So Callum Mor stays with his mother and forgets his yearnings to be a writer. He becomes the best fisherman in the region before grave misunderstandings tear his love, Catriona, away from him. This displaces his gifts as he drives himself and his crew to the very limits of endurance. The manner of his mother's death is the final straw. Callum Mor's sensitivities snap and he enters the dark zone of alcoholism and withdraws from society. With only his animals keeping him this side of sanity he survives in a bleak solitude. Until a family with a small girl seeking refuge from a storm come to his house. Slowly he edges away from his self-destruction. He saves the girl's life in a winter blizzard. The glimmer of awakening dawns in him while sheltering in a cave with the child warmly ensconced in a gutted carcass of a sheep he killed to keep her from freezing. He sees his life pass in front of his eyes and this sets the stage for the final drama that illuminates the resilience of the human spirit.
"Redemption" is my thirteenth book and first novel, though actually the first book I ever wrote. Written in 1975, it was soon forgotten, as I was unable to get it published at that time. This "Lost" manuscript was rediscovered the spring of 2011 and then refined. I had found it in an old filing cabinet, read it through and could scarce believe it. I requested my wife and a couple of friends with critical eyes to read it through, just in case I was dreaming. Modern technology enabled the yellowing typed manuscript to be transformed into a computer ready document. My wife thought it was incredible; one friend could not put it down and mused about the film to be made; the other friend cried through most of it. All of which encouraged me to bring "Redemption" to life. I was tempted to leave this gem from 1975 in its pristine state, but realized that my insights some forty years later could enhance the narrative and flesh out "Callum Mor" into a character of epic proportions.
The story is an allegory for the life difficulties I experienced at that time -40 years ago. The surprise for me was how could I have written such a book while in a desperate state of mind? I was a real mess - with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep a career going at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. Publishing this book in 2014 was an imperative for me, as a necessary part of my own life-journey. It is a companion to Trailing Sky Six feathers also published in 2014.
These books are writing me.
Excerpt from Chapter 5
He followed the directions given and he trod the path that led him to where they had first loved. He found her sitting there looking out to sea. She was very quiet and composed, pale and ill. He saw this and approached her quickly and sat beside her. "What is it Catriona that makes you so pale?" She did not answer him so that he had to move in front of her to face her. There was such concern and tenderness in his voice. He saw the tears in her eyes and softly insisted she tell him. "I'm having a baby Callum Mor. I'm two months pregnant by you." They had only made love that one time, here in this place. "Is that why you came here?" She nodded through her tears. He reached out to her and touched her cheek with his fingers so that she would look at him. When she did he smiled. "We'll be wed Catriona and I'll be lucky to have you as a wife." She moved away from his touch.
"Just like that? We'll be wed. Not I love you Catriona. Not will you marry me. Just we'll be wed because you've bairned me. You'd wed any girl on this island that you bairned. I'm no different am I?" she asked desperately, for her heart was breaking as she spoke these words to him. He was taken aback and stumbled clumsily over words, but she would rebuff him so. "Listen to me Catriona, my words are all wrong but can you not see what's in my eyes and in my heart. I want you for my own. The bairn is just bringing it about faster than I thought. I want you as my wife, I've not known how to ask you." He said at last. Catriona did not see, could not see and answered Callum Mor's endearments with her own pain and misguided views. "Don't tell me that Callum Mor, for it's not so. You don't understand yourself. You love everyone. You would marry fat Jessie with the warts and be content. I-I must have more than that for I love you completely, whereas you cannot love me more than anyone else. It's not kindness I want, it's your love - all of it. I'll not be like other women and accept less or tie a man with bairns and be happy with a small piece of his affection. I want more than men are prepared to give."
Callum Mor implored her to believe him, that she had lit a spark that coursed and burned through all of him. But Catriona believed him not. She left him there, puzzled and bewildered. He was hurt and confused and knew not what to do. So he left her to herself and she waited for him. For two days she waited for him in quiet desperation and panic, and when he did not come she took herself to Glasgow. She was gone several weeks, a time that Callum Mor passed in utmost misery. This was all beyond his understanding. She returned pale and brittle and he went to her and they walked to their place in the heather for they knew not how to talk. Callum Mor could not stand it. With a cry he held her and begged her to give him her love, he could not bear her so distant from him. Her hands trembled as she touched him. His heart drained at the sadness in her large eyes as he stood before her. "I've had an abortion Callum Mor."
Time stopped. The rocks and earth absorbed her words so that Callum Mor scarcely heard. He stood stupidly looking at her, not seeing or hearing but frozen and rooted like a dead tree. "An abortion Callum Mor. In Glasgow." She whispered this quietly. His hand, driven by his seaman's strength, moved through the air and he hit her and felled her. He recoiled and then looked in horror at the hand that had struck his Catriona. "Oh God forgive me. Jesus save me," he cried as he moved to pick her up. "Forgive me Catriona, please forgive me. My hand had a mind of its own. Oh, Catriona wait for me." There was blood on her lips and teeth as she backed away from him. She was like a wounded tigress and she had no mercy or forgiveness. "Catriona for God's sake what is happening? I want to be your husband and enjoy our bairns. What in Jesus's name have you done. Why have you done this to me?" "To you!" She cried incredulous and brave. She stepped towards him. The bruise from his hand had reddened her face from chin to eyebrow. "To you! Nothing has been done to you. I did it to me, Callum Mor, not to you and I'll carry the sin and shame of it to my grave." Callum Mor stumbled back at her fierceness. "I did it to me, do you hear!" she shouted and the breeze took her words and the sea received them. "I did it to me!" They faced one another with dangerous intensity.
"Why Catriona, tell me why?" There were tears running down his face.
"You ask why. It's so I'm free of marrying you, so that you are free of marrying me because I'm with a child. We're not for one another and the child would have bound us." Callum Mor fell to his knees on the ground before her. His tears turned to a strangled sob as he cried as though his very guts would come through his mouth. He cried in this terrible fashion and collapsed prostrate on the ground with his face in the soft earth. His hands reached out and he held her foot with one hand and ground the hand that hit her into the earth to cleanse his bruteness. She flinched at his touch but watched his demented torment as he wept. It was just as her own when she had stumbled away from the abortionist's house. A tired Glasgow doctor who at least spared her from the horrors of the back streets. Callum Mor wept as something precious and rare had gone from him and from Catriona and he did not know why. Catriona raised him and they stood together. Terrible in their shared pain. Soon Callum Mor was silent. He sat and rested his head on her legs. He was stunned but could think of nothing but Catriona and her pain. He spoke to her, words of life and love. He tried to lift her burden to his own shoulders so that she may have peace. He felt her desperation and pain and asked her to accept him, pledging his life and strength to her if she would take him. He stood and placed his arm protectively around her and he stroked her hair while he begged forgiveness and sought her love. She shook her head slowly, her eyes full of sadness and pain.
"There can be no going back, Callum Mor. This will always lie between us." Callum Mor protested that this was not so, that they needed the other to heal and grow but already his hold on Catriona was loosening. Her heart already broken she whispered "It's no use," with a finality that Callum Mor should have fought. He should have torn the barriers down, but never, ever should he have accepted her desperate words as final. They were both terribly wrong and could not find a way to bridge the abyss they had opened. As proud young persons they did not even seek help from those close to them - Annie with her intuition and old Colin with his worldly wisdom. And so they forgot their beauty and hurled themselves into a hell that scarred them deeply for life.
There were times his soul talked to him, to go to her wherever she was. She had been wrong as he had been wrong and she needed him as he needed her. But so convinced was he of her hate that he let her go and he bore within himself the guilt of what she had done. It was to free him she said, so his was the pain and the guilt and the deep, enduring sorrow. And for the second time he did not go to her and she disappeared from the island, but never from his mind and heart. His loss became a memory that turned into a scar that would not heal.
Inspirational Video About Redemption:
Podcast Interview from Xlibris On Air with the author, Ian Prattis:
Interview with Female First:Click here for the interview Q&A
Praise for Redemption:
Ian Prattis' Self Review of his book, Redemption is located on Ian Prattis' Blog.
BlueInk Review is the authoritative voice in the Indie publishing world, always looking for "next generation" books worth reading. They have reviewed Redemption and you can read the review on their website.
"What marks a great work of art is that it touches the heart and soul. Redemption touched mine very deeply. It is so vividly descriptive of both scenery and people, drawing you into the life of Callum Mor, making you cry for him, cheer for him, and wishing you could continue on his journey with him. It is a book to be read over and over again, from which to take away life lessons and inspiration for our own personal journey. This is a book to share with those who touch your life."Lucille Hildesheim, International Harp Artiste
"I loved this book, captivating on so many levels, as the story reinforced my resolve. I have three criteria for a good book I don't want it to end, I love the end, and I do not wish to speak to anyone for several hours after I finish it. So, this met my criteria on all these levels!"Mary Helen Dean, Management Professional, Ottawa, Canada
"A magical journey of the struggle towards hope, inspiration and love."Tina Fedeski, Executive Director of Orkidstra Canada and Founder of The Leading Note Foundation
' "Redemption" is a riveting novel chronicling one man's journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation. The narrative may be applied both individually and universally. Individuals are suffering all over the world from the chaos that life brings, be it violence, abuse of power, cheating, torture or the destruction that comes with war. What is so exquisite about this novel is the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition. Callum Mor draws us in as he demonstrates an intuitive understanding and respect for nature. We are intrigued by his innocence and purity which contrast so strongly with the tragic failings that surround him. When Callum Mor's journey moves him even closer to the abyss, the author refuses to "sanitize" his experiences. Rather, they are put out there as graphically and tragically as they occur. The story pulls you in and before you know it, the reader is seduced and becomes Callum Mor. As he is redeemed, so are we. "Redemption" is so beautifully written, exploring the human condition in its entirety, even the darkest elements. The author does this with grace, elegance, compassion and without judgment. 'Anita Rizvi, Consultant, Ottawa, Canada
"Thank you for the gift of your book, Redemption. It is a lovely read. Elegantly sad. We all have a piece of Callum Mor in us. I certainly identified with many aspects of his journey. So thank you for the enjoyable hours reading about this fine human being."Jo Anne Denis, Retired Federal Public Servant from the Government of Canada
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