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Lying Awake Hardcover – 1 Oct 2000

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Hardcover, 1 Oct 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A Knopf; First Edition edition (1 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375406328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375406324
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,362,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


" The world of the cloister is an almost unimaginable one, but this slim novel takes us inside the walls ... in an impressively authentic manner." -- Sunday Times, January 12th 2003 --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

This wonderful novel spent 17 weeks on the LA Times Bestseller List reaching #1, with over 60,000 copies sold in the USA and is now in its 9th printing. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Sister John of the Cross pushed her blanket aside, dropped to her knees on the floor of her cell, and offered the day to God. Read the first page
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Mar 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The story concerns a Carmelite nun in present-day Los Angeles, where Sister John, who writes poetry inspired by visions, has to face the possibility that her visions are in fact caused not by God, but by temporal lobe epilepsy. At one level, the book is an exploration of the questions this raises - for example, is the epilepsy God's way of inspiring her? will the operation to cure her blinding headaches take away her visions? But we are shown so much else: the love the sisters have for one another, the humour they find in their simple lives, their clarity and simplicity. The author's style is limpid, translucent, never using two words when one will do. Each sentence invites you to meditate on it. It is not in any sense a religious tract; more like a long poem in which, the more you read, the more you are given. Please read it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Simpson-long TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Sep 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sister John is a member of an enclosed order. She has visions. These have come to her after years of struggling with her vocation within this order and she feels she has finally found God. She is taken ill and has to go to hospital for tests and is found to suffer a form of epilepsy, the symptoms of which are heightened awareness and visions. So, she finds that her closeness to God was a physical, not a spiritual, manifestation and finds her faith once more is tested to the limit. Having the minor surgery which will cure her of her illness also takes away these visions, these moments of spiritual awareness and she has to find a way back.

Sometimes reading can be an uncomfortable experience and certain books are not easy, with prose which is difficult to grasp. Presumably it is meant to do so. Lying Awake is the polar opposite. Without wishing to sound too fanciful, I found when reading this book that a sense of peacefulness settled upon me, I wanted to be left alone and not be disturbed and reading this at 7 am in the morning meant that I had that blessing. It is a quiet book.

It is also short, under 200 pages, but every page counts. It would not have gained anything by being longer, it is perfect as it is. I read it straight through in one sitting and I would recommend anybody who reads this to do the same, not that I can imaging that anyone starting this book could bear to put it down.

Please read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 19 Dec 2005
Format: Paperback
Rare is the novel that enthralls me sufficiently to warrant reading in a single sitting. Being dyslexic, I am one of the world's slower readers. Being stubborn, I have read more than most. However, this comes because of a large investment of time. I expected 'Lying Awake' to be a four-night, going-to-sleep kind of book. Instead, it kept me in a state indicated by the title -- lying awake. I could not put the book down.
Author Mark Salzman has made a name for himself with books such as 'Iron and Silk' and 'The Soloist'. According to the critical blurbs on the jacket, this book is
'...written with exquisite grace and hailed by critics. This elegant novel plumbs the depths of one woman's soul, and in so doing raises salient questions about the power--and price--of true faith.'
I had an instant rapport with Sister John - the nun had taken the spiritual name from John of the Cross, best known for his reflections on the dark night of the soul, which factors into the situation for Sister John. She had spent many years hoping for insight, hoping for a feeling, hoping for a sign, hoping for something to let her know with certainty that there is meaning to her life, her call, her sacrifices, and her future.
In the course of regular monastic routines, elaborated in the narrative with skill and subtle insight by Salzman, Sister John begins to sense, to feel, to be aware of the presence of the divine in the ordinary and swiftly-becoming-not-so-ordinary day to day tasks and schedules. Salzman takes us gently back through past experiences of Sister John while slowly teasing out the real causes of Sister John's feelings of the divine presence.
Sister John then has to make a choice. The religious ecstatic experience is in fact a dangerous one.
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