Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nuns - in Black and White

Nuns are often looked at as mysterious and fascinating. In the last few years, a number of memoirs have been published by nuns, ex-nuns or journalists who seem to have discovered that fascination, and spent months researching and then writing about their experiences with the sisters. Here are some non-fiction titles that you might find interesting.

For the Love of God: The Faith and Future of the American Nun by Lucy Kaylin. Kaylin sets out to do an expose, but finds she actually came to like and admire the women whom she met. She visits a Trappistine monastery that observes strict silence, attends a “clothing ceremony” at a Poor Clare community and visits an inner-city shelter run by Franciscan sisters.

The Tupip and the Pope by Deborah Larsen. Larsen smokes her last cigarette in the taxi as it drops her off at the mother house. She entered the convent in 1960. It was not a “fit” for her and by 1965 she realized she needed to leave. She shares with the reader her intense experiences.

Karen Armstrong is a prolific writer (History of God; The Great Transformation, etc.), but often people do not realize she was a nun. Karen entered the convent when she graduated (what would be our) high school, when she was 17 years old. Her account of these first, difficult, pre-Vatican II years in the convent is described in Through the Narrow Gate. She, too, realizes she must leave and her description of this equally traumatic event is recounted in The Spiral Staircase. Both books are deeply interesting. Meg

[The idea for this post came from Library Journal's Reader's Shelf.]



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