The Final Retreat
(Sylph Editions, 2018) is a debut novel of Stephen Hough
, a world-renowned concert pianist and composer. The novel narrates a story of a priest Joseph Flynn, who undergoes a deep emotional and psychological confusion that arises out of his devotion to religion and his desire to be happy and content in his private life, which goes against traditional and conservative beliefs and principles. Performed at times in a shocking and destabilizing manner, the novel includes references to music and literature, theatricalizing the text that allows space for clashing ideas. The novel has a profoundly provocative energy, inviting the readers to explore the nature of self and existence. One of the key questions that The Final Retreat
poses is connected with the pursuit of peace and harmony: the quest, however, is inseparable from struggles and frustrations. What is happiness? And what is the role of the other for the individual’s self-content? These questions are explored through delving into the dreary abyss of loneliness and alienation. The Final Retreat
offers an insight into a soul tormented by doubts, fears, and frustrations which become part of the individual’s journey to the self.