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Take a well earned break in the idyllic English country town of Dunbridge, and walk with the young curate cum amateur detective in the first of Pam Rhodes’ charming Dunbridge Chronicles.
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From ‘Songs of Praise’ presenter, Pam Rhodes, comes a heart-warming comedy – ‘Fisher of Men’. Documenting the lighter side of church, Pam’s spiritual insight’s and keen love for writing shine through this delight novel that will make you smile on the inside and out.
Written with Pam’s characteristic love of English country life, the church and most of all the congregation, this book tells the story of a lovable, but eccentric bunch of church members:
• Rev Neil Fisher – the fresh-faced and inexperienced fish-out-of-water Vicar
• Ros – single mum, and focus of the novel’s gentle love interest
• Wendy – the church’s music leader, hoping to bag her a toy-boy Vicar
• Margret & Frank – the trouser-wearing wife with her husband on a leash (think Hyacinth Bucket)
Set in the idyllic English country town of Dunbridge, the young curate, Rev Neil Fisher, arrives to take up his very first post at St. Stephen’s. But when his boss leaves suddenly due to a family tragedy, Neil is dropped in the deep end with the whole church to look after (and its somewhat colourful congregation).
Created by the well-known presenter and journalist, this book blends comical moments with flashes spiritual depth. Readers of Joanna Trollope and Jan Karon will find Pam’s first book in the Dunbridge Chronicles charmingly amusing and spiritually lifting.
Fisher of Men by Pam Rhodes was published by Lion Hudson in March 2013 and is our 13342nd best seller. The ISBN for Fisher of Men is 9781782640004.
“... Neil is a man with a mission, sincerity and heart, even if his inexperience and natural shyness do land him in trouble now and again, especially with the ladies. I love a book that moves you to tears one minute, then has you laughing out loud the next. This book is it!” – Aled Jones, broadcaster and singer.
“Pam’s book is a great read! It’s a tale of real people who laugh, have fun and love life. I commend it warmly.” – George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury.
“Very moving, very powerful intimate moments… I really did enjoy it.” – Lynn Parsons, BBC Radio 2 (praise for ‘With Hearts and Hymns and Voices’).
“Very readable… Warm and witty.” – Women’s Weekly (praise for ‘With Hearts and Hymns and Voices’).
“Ambitions and emotions run high…” – Family Circle Magazine (praise for ‘With Hearts and Hymns and Voices’).
“A gripping story which touches some very basic emotions… Captures wonderfully the two extremes of village life… This is very powerful stuff.” – Barbara Erskine (praise for ‘With Hearts and Hymns and Voices’).
“This is a charming, light read of a fictitional village chosen to feature in a BBC production of Songs of Praise. Having just taken part in such an event it was great to read the 'behind the scenes' viewpoint from Pam Rhodes and how it shook up a sleepy community. Romance and humour dominate in this easy to read but hard to put down novel.” (Reader of ‘With Hearts and Hymns and Voices’)
“A great read with a thought provoking storyline. The book carries you along with the dilemmas of several village characters. Will you take the moral high-ground or a more sympathetic approach to this vicar who suffers from living as a human being? I changed my view several times as the author cleverly introduced more and more aspects and implications that deserved careful consideration.” (Reader of ‘The Trespassers’)
“This book made me think about issues that I had not thought about before, made laugh out loud and cry copious tears but made me feel good at the end of it. I was suprised when I stopped reading to find myself away from the village and people I was reading about, she made it so real.” (Reader of ‘Whispers')
Born on 22 September 1950 at Gillingham in Kent, Pam Rhodes joined Thames TV as a programme secretary on Eamonn Andrews’ ‘Today’ before becoming programme organiser for the ITV documentary series ‘This Week’. Moving in front of the cameras for the first time, Pam began her career in news journalism as anchor woman for Anglia Television’s local daily news programme appearing every evening for seven years. A comfortable and reliable presence on screen, Pam also presented the holiday and travel programmes that were growing in popularity with the advent of affordable air travel. Pam has also hosted, her own daily interview series for Lifestyle Television, and presented faith based broadcasts for Radio 2 and Premier Christian Radio.
In 1987, Pam began her long and much loved association with the BBC’s flagship religious music programme, ‘Songs of Praise’. In her 25 year involvement, Pam has personally hosted more than 2000 editions. Remembering the many highlights of the 50 year, long running series Pam recalls visits overseas to present programmes from the Sydney Opera House, the Vatican basilicas, Zimbabwe, Vienna, Nashville, Hong Kong and Brazil. She also looks back with fondness on her interviews with fascinating people including Pope John Paul, Dolly Parton, Sir Cliff Richard and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Perhaps her most influential memories are not of the great and good, but the many ordinary people who told the worldwide ‘Songs of Praise’ audience personal stories of extraordinary grief, endurance, honesty and courage.
Pam is married to Richard Crow and lives with the family on their two-acre small holding in Bedfordshire. From here the couple manage the Biggleswade Cat Lodge which takes in cats while their owners are on holiday, and acts as an RSPCA boarding haven for animals waiting for new homes. Unknown by many, Pam also enjoys dancing and is often involved in ballroom, line or tap dancing - or at modern jive evenings. It’s through her love of dancing that she came to meet her husband Richard. A professional speaker, Pam is often asked to chair conferences or discussion groups and speak on specialist subjects ranging from the impact of bereavement to the welfare of Army personnel, their wives and children at The Army Families Federation Conference.
With at least four speaking engagements a month, and audiences numbering from a handful to several thousand, Pam is an accessible speaker for groups meeting under the banner of The Women's Institute, University of the Third Age, Rotary, Lion, Luncheon Clubs and fund-raising events. Pam also comperes concerts and presents events on behalf of charities in which she has an official role, such as patron – as with Keech Cottage Children's Hospice, Livability, MHA Group providing housing for the elderly, Christian Aid and The British Legion. She is also Vice-President of the Church Army, and an Honorary Member of the Royal School of Church Music. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Bedford for her contribution to news journalism and charity work.
Pam Rhodes follows in a strong tradition of novels based in the life of English taown and village churches. Long before Dawn French made famous the ‘Vicar of Dibley’, and Tom Hollander rescued the genre with his depiction of harassed inner city clergyman, ‘Rev’ Adam Smallbone – and even before Derek Nimmo and chapter in ‘All Gas And Gaiters’, writers were exploring the comic potential of men of the cloth.
Not all have been generous to faults and foibles of the clergyman portrayed. Holding positions of considerable authority – in earlier times if not our own, clergymen have been targets for critics, revolutionaries, iconoclasts the downright bitter and many out to win a cheap laugh at the expense of many unable or unwilling to mount a defence.
Among Victorians, Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’ was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels. The novel centres on Rev Primrose, his wife Deborah and their six children, their idyllic country parish and a sequence of events around an inheritance, a wedding, a rescue and a series of dreadful occurrences including a fire and eventual restoration. Often described as a sentimental novel, it can also be read as a veiled attack on the whole genre of sentimental novels and a parallel to the story of Job. On a deeper level, the book approaches the question of why evil exists.
Even children’s novelist, Roald Dahl, has a story entirely given to churchman with his ‘The Vicar of Nibbleswicke’. In Dahl’s novel, The Reverend Robert Lee, new vicar of Nibbleswicke, is suffers from the fictional disease: ‘Back-to-Front Dyslexia’ creating hilarious confusion from his habit of saying ‘stink’ when he means ‘knits’, or ‘dog’ when he means ‘God’… though how he pronounces end-of-word capitals isn’t clear. Thankfully, a cure is found, though it involves his walking backwards for the rest of his life.
You’ll have noticed that all of these stories involve some deliberate belittlement of churchman with trivialised or trivialising names: ‘Dibley’, ‘Smallbone’, ‘Primrose’ and ‘Nibbleswicke’. Where are the novels that portray faith leaders in strong roles? The question might be better phrased as where are the readers who demand these roles in literature? Pam Rhodes seems to be using a rather twee name for the town of her church based novel, ‘Fisher of Men’. However, there’s no doubt where Pam’s heart lies in regard to the church and its valiant, faithful, hard working leaders.
Yes, Pam’s novel is comic by turns, and romantic in direction, but it’s also written with real warmth and generosity toward hard-pressed clergyman whose good works may never be known – not this side of Heaven. And maybe respectful characterisation is the least writers can give back to our hardworking pastors and ministers. No doubt faith leaders will continue to bear with meekness and mercy the jokes of those detractors who constantly portray vicars and curates as figures merely of fun. But then again, what was it Jesus said about the meek and merciful? – Les Ellison
“‘Fisher of Men’ is a gentle romantically comic novel from ‘Songs of Praise’ presenter, Pam Rhodes.”
“Set in the idyllic English country town of Dunbridge, young curate, Neil Fisher, arrives to take up his very first post at the church of St. Stephen’s. Dropped in the deep end when his boss leaves suddenly due to a family tragedy, Neil has to cope with the town’s more ‘interesting’ residents and his somewhat quirky flock of church members.”
“Pam’s delightful novel will make you smile and share with you a fresh spiritual insight through the lighter side of church life.”
|Author / Artist||Pam Rhodes|
|Publisher||Lion Hudson (March 2013)|
|Edition||1st New edition|
|Number of Pages||256|
|Page last updated||12th July 2018|