On The Bookshelf: Confession

If you have not read Confession, a novel written by my friend and neighbor Richard Freis, then I want to highly recommend it to you…

Confession by Richard Fries

When asked about the inspiration for the novel, Richard told Cleta Ellington, “The novel began in a conversation with Eudora Welty, in which it struck me how relatively few southern novels contain characters shaped by the educated, upper middle class milieu from which Ms. Welty herself comes.  I have always been an avid reader of suspense and mystery novels, as was Ms. Welty.  So I decided to write a suspense novel set in that milieu, with a plot that had been with me for a number of years.”

A tale about a middle-aged man who makes his confession to a priest, George has put much effort into creating the picture perfect life, career, wife and family.  However, it quickly becomes apparent that all is not as it seems and you find yourself caught up in this psychological thriller which cannot be put down!  In other words, this is much more than a mystery story with a typical hero and villain!

For Jacksonians and Mississippians the local flavor adds an interesting aspect to the read.

For example, Freis brings to life the Cathedral where George worships (which happens to be located here in Jackson).  For those of you who haven’t been inside I have made a visit to take a few photos but really reading his descriptions are pictures enough!

In the book George is married to Julia (and is having an affair by the way) but I don’t think I am spoiling the story by letting you in on that!

an excerpt…

“Early in the affair, Julia and I were sitting in our customary pew midway down the aisle, where we could see the lines and feel the full body of the church rising around us”…

Confession by Richard Fries

 “the focus toward the altar with the rose window soaring radiant above it and the smaller altars to Joseph and to Mary on either side”…

Confession by Richard Fries

“the stained glass windows floating in the walls with the terra-cotta stations of the cross resting solidly between them”…

Confession by Richard Fries

“…I had often glanced at the stained glass window to the right of our pew with a  casual appreciative appraisal:  it is a portrait of the Last Supper.  Eleven of the disciples look toward Christ, their faces concentrated and calm, their hands relaxed or raised in attitudes of devotion.  The haloes that glow around them are the spontaneous radiance of their hearts’ candor.  Christ rests in the center, one hand on the communal cup, the other blessing the loaf they are about to share.  Judas sits at the front of the frame.  His hand resting on the side of his face near his companions exposes to us what he hides from them.  The others look toward Christ, Judas turns away, clutching his dark cloak with knotted hands.  His expression is illumined by no halo, yet the artist compels the viewer to see it clearly.  I had sometimes wondered what the artist knew that allowed him to find that expression for Judas’ face?  Isolation.  Misery.  His eyes cast down, self-blinded.  Grief.  And no intention of changing.”

Wow!  His impressive gift for painting a picture with words puts the stained glass scene right before your eyes

even without my photo!…

Confession by Richard Fries

His descriptions are poetic, his characters compelling, he incorporates suspense with enthralling twists and turns.  The book is a travel journal taking the reader from the Barrier Islands of Mississippi to the Gulf Coast through the capitol city of Jackson and into the Eastover neighborhood over familiar routes from State Street to Highway 49.

Now here is my confession!  Knowing Richard and his wife Catherine as I do it was a bit difficult for me to decide whether or not I could do his book justice by giving it an OPP review.  You see, these two are possibly the most intellectual, scholarly people I know.  Oh and by the way they are also among the nicest!  Richard’s wife Catherine was Mr. Doctor’s Latin professor in college.  Years later I was given her name as a tutor for daughter who was, shall we say, not quite as gifted in Latin as her father had been.  When Catherine and I began to talk about the tutoring and I told her whose daughter this was – I made the mistake of saying that she had “given” Mr. Doctor the Latin Award at Millsaps College.  She quickly corrected me telling me that he earned it!

Richard attended St. John’s College (the “Great Books” College) and studied the Western founding philosophers in the Classics graduate program at the University of California at Berkeley.  He also taught at Millsaps College and has the distinction of having been the President of the First International Ballet Competition held in Jackson in 1979.  Confession is a finalist for the 2014 Reader’s Favorite International Book Awards in two categories: Suspense and General Fiction.  (fingers crossed here OPP)

Last but not least, I love the furry four legged character in the book – Daisy – based on two dogs that Richard has known and loved in his life.

an excerpt…

“A ball of fur – a muff walking, said one of Julia’s friends – she waddled the floors with her nose down, eagerly following a scent, until she was distracted by a sound.  Then she stilled into stiff attention until, the disturbance assessed, she melted again into motion.”

I love this family photo with Thea, the Great Pyrenees.  I am glad she lives on as a part of Daisy in Confession…

Confession by Richard Fries

Thanks to Miss Welty for inspiring the writing of this novel!  You may certainly visit Miss Welty’s bookstore, LeMuria, here in Jackson to grab your copy or head over to Amazon for a kindle version here

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