Delivering Virtue

Written by Brian Kindall
Review by Lisa Sheehan

“1854 and Didier Rain doesn’t want to be a rogue. He prefers to think of himself as a gentleman poet. And yet every time Rain finds himself in questionable circumstances, some animal instinct leads him into wrongful behavior. Maybe it’s his Oedipal upbringing that’s to blame. Or maybe he’s just never found a good moral example that hasn’t let him down.”

Brian Kindall creates a memorably delightful character, dissolute, shabby-genteel poet Didier Rain, in order to tell the picaresque story of his latest novel, Delivering Virtue.

In 1854, Rain is approached by the Church of the Resurrected Truth, a splinter Mormon offshoot, and hired as bodyguard to deliver a child named Virtue deep into the Western wilderness so that she can be the bride to their prophet Nehi. The energetic, rambling quest-story that Kindall unfolds from this premise is both gripping and at times semi-comic.

Rain and his little charge encounter lunatics, killers, American Indians, fanatics, and, eventually, the prophet himself and his followers.

As the narrative climaxes and unhinges, Kindall steps up the violence of his narrative and its poignancy, and the combination of action, cynicism and dogged hope (with heavy helpings of magical realism) is oddly effective. A remarkable and sui generis historical novel.