At the heart of The Final Retreat lies the question of how far the idea of a priest as a ‘wounded healer’ can be stretched. It is written as a diary-cum-memoir by Father Joseph, a middle-aged priest whose faith and life are in tatters, who is sent on an eight-day silent retreat by his kindly, sympathetic bishop. Apart from short daily meetings with a spiritual director, he speaks to no one. But he writes. Page after page, exploring the state of his soul, the loss of his vocation, his sexual addiction, and the events which are destroying his life.
Influenced by Stephen Hough’s other life as a concert pianist and composer, the book’s structure echoes a complex musical composition, with returning themes and motifs as the story unfolds. Melodies are hinted at rather than fully sung. Ideas are deliberately left incomplete. Hough leaves readers to fill in the blanks and experience the work through their own unique perspectives. Beautifully produced, The Final Retreat is a visual and creative masterpiece that will linger in the mind like a haunting melody.