This is the story of a small town Catholic priest who becomes a missionary in China at the onset of the twentieth century. I struggled through the first two sections that cover his youth through priesthood. His escapades were hardly what you might equate to Tom Brown (Thomas Hughes) or Charles Ryder (Evelyn Waugh), yet he is somewhat of a scamp as seen through the eyes of the clergy. The main part of the novel is set in very rural China, complete with famine, plague, warlord feuds, etc. This is more interesting reading, however it reminds me partly of Pearl S. Buck and John Hersey, and all of the stock situations you can name. It does, however, provide the author for a platform to profess his views on the parochialism of competing religions.