A priest's fall from grace makes a clamorous mess

IN HIS 44 YEARS, BRITISH NOVEList A.N. Wilson has published 22 books -- and not in just one or two genres. Finish his excellent biography, say, of Tolstoy or C.S. Lewis, and there's a new novel out. After that, a collection of outrageous opinions about the royal family hits the shelves.

The latest book is a novel, The Vicar of Sorrows (Norton; 391 pages; $23), about a lost Anglican clergyman. It represents the author's serious side, but the material is a bit balky. Handsome, remote Francis Kreer, vicar of St. Birinus, no longer believes in God or loves his wife. His...

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