Basically four people meet up on a rooftop and New Year's Eve. They survive the experience and the book explores the next ninety days with them...
It's stark reading in places. I never did find myself lost in mirth! But I enjoyed the book and would certainly recommend it.
The thing that has stuck with me is Maureen's last comments. She is a Catholic, with a paraplegic, brain-damaged son. She frequently refers to his vegetative state and has spent her whole adult life caring for him, nurturing him, clearing up his mess. Her plight is truly dreadful. But she is a Catholic - she attends church. But clearly although the church know of her and her son, they do nothing for her. There is no support structure, nothing. In the end, when she goes back to Church and confesses the sin of despair, she is awarded with fifteen Decades of Hail Marys and the priest asks if they can help - of course, by now, Maureen says that they cannot...she has another community of friends. What were they doing?
Here is what Maureen writes:
And I said, 'Thank you, Father, but I have friends who are helping.' I didn't tell him what sort of community these friends belonged to, though. I didn't tell him that they were all despairing sinners.
Do you remember Psalm 50? 'Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.' I went to Toppers' House because I had called and called and called, and there was no delivery, and my days of trouble seemed to have lasted too long and showed no signs of ending. But He did hear me, in the end, and He sent me Martin and JJ and Jess, and then He sent me Stephen and Sean and the quiz, and then He send me Jack and the newsagent's. In other words, He proved to me that He was listening. How could I have carried on doubting Him, with all that evidence? So I'd better glorify Him, as best I can.
You see, all the people that help her from outside the Church. Theologically, I can hack that. God can easily use non-Christians to provide sustenance for the saints. But why weren't the church there for her? Why were her own community not there? I can't get that!
At Easter People I met a good friend whose husband died two years ago now. In all that time, she told me, it was the non-Church people who had been of such help to her. They had supported her, cared for her, loved her. She was unable to talk of the Church in the same way! Why! What is that all about? Are we as a Church so uncaring as that? As what Hornby records...and it is not just here but in How to be Good as well!
I'm glad God is better at caring for people than his people are!