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Bridget Jones Goes Benedictine
on 1 March 2015
This is ,as you will gather from the blurb, is the story of Jane Christmas. A lady in her fifties with a few ex husbands who decides to investigate her life long yearning for religious life commencing unfortunately at the exact time that her current beau asks her to marry him. He is very understanding and off she goes to "experience" life in three convents and one monastery over an unusually long period. Ostensibly an Anglican our author stays with two Anglican order of sisters and one Catholic monastery and a Catholic convent.
I should, perhaps, have known from the title and should have been certain by the cover design but still I plunged ahead. The sad history of this lady and her avowed self disclosure of religious journey should have been moving I suppose, but no.
Bemused, I looked at the other reviews on Amazon of this book. They fall neatly into two groups. The majority ravers and the minority dissenters. I position myself squarely with the later. This is not a good book.
Why? It feels and reads disingenuously. Another reviewer felt that the author was just gathering information for a new book and spun the story around it. I tend to agree.
Our author starts with an Anglican order of sisters in Canada. Here she muses on the inadequacies of the breadth and diversity of Anglican theology and longs for the dogmatic certainties of Rome. Later in her Roman Catholic stays she rails against that very dogmatism and longs for the Anglican latitude. Then to the Isle of White to stay at Worth Abbey (RC...monks) and St Cecilia's Abbey (RC...Sisters). Here she becomes surprised at the fact that RC sisters adhere to RC dogma (painting a very bleak picture of the sisters in particular ). She is affronted that the good sisters have an age limit of admissions.
For someone with a life long hunch that she might have wanted to enter religious life she seems to have done bugger all research. All the orders she visited have excellent websites with detailed information on all aspects of vocations, including usual age ranges (this book was published in 2013 not 1960). Someone who has had a yearning for religious life would surely have some knowledge about the differences in Anglican and Roman Catholic theology ( particularly as she has parents ,one of each denomination ) but she comes across as an astonished adolescent. This is why it feels disingenuous .
The counterfeit feel and breathless adolescent style was not to my taste and the humour, minimal at best.
If you have read some of the rave reviews that state that this book is quite spiritual, it isn't . If you read that it is an excellent book for those considering entering religious life, it isn't ( contact your national vocations office of the denomination of your choice).
Sorry Jane. I won't be bothering with your other books and sorry if this upsets you but you published it and I paid for it so that gives me a say!