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Three Vicars Talking – Revs Richard Coles, Kate Bottley, Giles Fraser

SPCK ISBN 978 0 281 06468 5 138 Pages Price £12.99

It is not every day that a vicar becomes a household name in broadcasting. Then three come along at once and do some successful radio shows about their day jobs.

In 2019 the trio originally recorded three conversations for BBC Radio 4 about their professional experience of conducting services for “hatches, matches and dispatches.” Later they added two conversations about Christmas and Easter; the latter was poignantly recorded during lockdown. For me this last chapter is the most compelling.

The book is fascinating and funny, but flawed. The chemistry between the three contributors is what makes this a proper conversation, and many of the exchanges are fascinating and very funny. The set-pieces of church life offer every possibility for both triumph and disaster. Most Christian ministers have encountered the whole gambit of experiences, from moments of breathtaking and touching beauty to mishaps, wardrobe malfunctions and bad taste; it is all here.

Yet the book is flawed. At times it’s like chewing a sweet wrapper but not really being able to taste the chocolate. We do have many fascinating and at times amusing anecdotes, but I didn’t really sense that what I have observed is the genuine heart of what it means to be a gospel minister.

John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex

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