CAREY, Eileen with Andrew CAREY, The Bishop and I: Taking the lid off the Church's best-kept secret. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1998

Reviewed by Robert Brow  (

Susan Howatch (yes, the author of Absolute Truths, the brilliant novel about an Anglican Bishop) wrote "This will appeal to all those who are interested not in the private life of the clergy but in the institution of marriage itself." It is also a story about the strange mixture of faith called Anglicanism. Here is the menu by way of an appetizer. If anyone imagines the life of a Bishop's partner is either easy or dull, think again.

Eileen, wrote "I was very influenced by the wonderful American evangelist Billy Graham when he was in England in 1954 and 1956. But "a shock high on the Richter scale" was the invitation for my husband George Carey "to become the 103rd. Archbishop of Canterbury."

Patricia, wife of Eric Bays, Bishop of Qu'Appelle, Canada, was baptized and raised a Roman Catholic. Her grandmother was a very strict Presbyterian who gave her "the notion of God as a very strict parent," which she has struggled to overcome ever since (15). She could have become a theological seminary professor. But "the kind of job for which they are trained is unlikely to be given to the bishop's wife."

Jennie, teacher, "vowed to herself never to be the wife of priest " but in 1988 she found herself the wife of David Chesters, Bishop of Blackburn, England."

Marie Elizabeth, graduated from Weson Jesuit School of Theology, was ordained as an Anglican (Episcopal) priest, and married Mark Dyer, a Roman Catholic priest who became the Episcopal Bishop of Bethlehem, USA.

Susanna, primary school teacher, wife of Samuel Chukuma Ebo, first Bishop of Orlu which grew and divided into three further Nigerian dioceses.

Esther came from a family that suffered "intolerable suffering and persecution" when they became Christians. She trained as a teacher and nurse but had to abandon her profession to become "the unpaid assistant" and chief cook to Bishop  Gideon 1 Olajide, Bishop of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Chitra, teacher, is married to Kenneth Fernando, Bishop of Colombo. Half their flock are Sinhalese and half are Tamils, the two groups that have been at war for thirty years in Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka).

Barbara studied at Vassar College, New York, but quit the second year, and married an Australian, Ian Gordon Combe George, who became the Archbishop of Adelaide, Australia. She was shocked by the realization that "my husband was married to the Church first and me second. Had it not been for our Christian faith we might not have continued together." After their son Samuel's death by suicide, she became Registrar of a consortium of Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Uniting Church Colleges, "which complements my husband's calling."

Ian was raised as a Baptist, and became an English Professor at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He resigned to become the first diocesan bishop's husband in the Anglican communion. His wife is Penelope Jamieson, Bishop of Dunedin.

Najat is a Palestinian, born in Nablus, studied in the United States, and her family encouraged her marriage to Samir Kafity, who became Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Madeleine was raised in both Christian and traditional African religion. She came to faith in a revival and became a Baptist. She is married to Norman Kayumba, Bishop of Kigeme, Rwanda. He sheltered the only Anglican Tutsi Bishop in his house during the massacre. Since then she has studied at St. Paul's Theological College, Limuru, Kenya, and became a very able theologian as well as caring for the widows and orphans of the massacres in her country.

Rachel came from a small fishing town in Norfolk, England, became a nurse, and went out to Argentina with her husband, David Leake, to work among the Chaco Indians of Northern Argentina, where he became their Bishop.

Olga was born in Cuba and raised in Jamaica. She became an accounts clerk before her marriage to Orlam Ugham Lindsay, who became the Bishop of Antigua (Aruba) and then the Archbishop of the West Indies.

Shamim lost her mother when she was only ten years old, and she was lovingly cared for by her father who had been converted from the Muslim faith. Her marriage to Alexander John Malik, made it impossible to continue teaching as well as being a minister's wife. He became the Bishop of Lahore, Pakistan.

Thelma was brought up as a Presbyterian in Londonderry. Happily she was saved from bigotry because her friends and neighbors were Roman Catholics. She graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. Twice she gave up her career as a teacher to share in her husband's work. She enjoys being told 'You don't look like a bishop's wife!' She retorts, 'What are we supposed to look like?' James Mehaffey is Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Northern Island, and she is "the timekeeper for James' sermons."

Irene was an Australian nurse who went to work in London. On holiday in Tanzania she met Godfrey Mdimi Mhgolo who became the Bishop of Central Tanganyika (Tanzania) where he is responsible for 165 parishes.

Eleci was born in Jaguarao in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, where she was raised as a Roman Catholic. At a school dance the ribbon of her shoe fell off and a young man picked it up and put in his jacket pocket. A nun said 'what a pity, Dona Gustavina, that your granddaughter is a reverend from the church of the devil.' She had to give up her profession in accountancy and banking. D.Jubal Pereira, Neves, Bishop of South-Western Brazil.

Maggie was born in Lesotho where her father had abandoned her mother and elder sister. But she trained as a nurse and midwife with a diploma in pediatrics. When David Cecil Tapi Nkwe became Bishop of Klerksdorp, South Africa, she was told by a senior bishop's wife that she would find it the loneliest role in the world.

Berta was married to Dinis Salomao Sengulane just before he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Lebombo, Mozanbique. Her marriage began her spiritual life. The government had just adopted Marxist doctrine and attempted to abolish the Christian faith. They began to visit Christians who had stopped going to church. She had to work as a bank clerk during the terrible war which went on for sixteen years.

Esther was "not exactly enamoured" when her husband Seme L. Solomona decided God had called him to be a priest. There was no money in the churches. Then she decided 'God can provide for our needs. So I gave up myself to God, and later on I shared this with my husband.' Since he has been Bishop of Yei, Southern Sudan, thousands of his flock have died in the war. . She is president of the Mothers' Union, organizes prayer meetings and Bible studies, and counsels the woman as she travels with her husband.

Russelle has sung at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and Judson Hall. Her father was one of the first African-Americans to break the color barrier as a firefighter. When she came to sing in Str. Gabriel's church, New York, she met Herbert Thompson, who is now Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio and serves 87 parishes. "I have learned that I can be in a church with a lot of people and still be in a pew by myself, and I will be at the head table and alone, but the beautiful altar flowers are mine to take home."

Julia was born during the war in southern China, but she was given the chance to study in Boston. Her father was a priest and then a bishop, but she did not want to be involved in a church. She came to faith through letters from Datuk Yong Ping Chung, now Bishop of Sabah (British North Borneo). When she arrived in Sabah she did not know Chinese, and experienced the terrible loneliness of being viewed as a foreigner.

Susie died of cancer before this book was completed. She was born in Tanzania, but her parents were French speaking from the Seychelles. She was a Dental Therapist and became Assistant director of Dental Services. She married a priest, French Chang Him, who became Bishop of the Seychelles (in the Indian Ocean), and they had twin daughters who wrote the last chapter of the book in French.

I hope this brief menu will encourage the reading of this wonderful book. Here is one of the many experiences that moved me. "I felt like I was ignored by my husband. He had to care for a parish and I think he hoped to put right all the wrongs of the parish overnight, to the detriment of his family" (Maggie). But that is not the theme at all. There is nothing negative about this book. The faith of each of these "partners" is very powerfully positive.

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