Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different sort of saint, 25 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Therese of Lisieux (Paperback)
I looked up this book on Amazon in the hope that somebody else would have reviewed it, because I wanted to see what they thought. Unfortunately, I seem to be the first.
I've read this little book so often that the ink is wearing thin where I've held the pages. I've been fascinated by Therese for many years, since I read her autobiography. In many ways I used to dislike her intensely. People say she's syrupy. Although I can see how one might think that of her, that isn't really what I dislike about her. To me she just seems the most awful prig, and her autobiography uses a certain sort of language, redolent of the particular kind of Catholic piety that seemed to come out of the time in which she lived, which I find massively off-putting. Somehow she's life-denying - awful. Lots of pious books have been written about her, and many of those are pretty revolting as well.
Monica Furlong, on the other hand, has written something quite different. For one thing, I don't think she's a Catholic, and that helps, because she isn't in the business of writing a hagiography. She paints a warts-and-all picture (and what a relief that is!).
Therese came from a strange middle-class French family of extreme piety. Her mother wanted to be a nun, her father wanted to be a monk, and when they both failed in these ambitions they decided to have children who, they hoped, would be religious in their stead. They had five girls who survived childhood, of whom Therese was the youngest. They all became nuns eventually, with Therese entering Carmel at 15. She is usually portrayed as a sweet, obedient, selfless child. Furlong shows her to have a will of iron: she was obedient to those to whom she chose to give obedience (her superiors in religion), but she moved heaven and earth to get into Carmel so young, even hijacking an audience with the pope. If she decided, rightly or wrongly, that God wanted her to do something, she would brook no argument. She comes across as a wilful, spoilt brat. Most of her biographers would be horrified at that assessment of her, but Furlong shows how she got like that, and how she worked with her own weaknesses, not so much conquering them but using them to become a unique, rounded individual by the time she died, of TB, at the age of 24. She was a dramatic young woman who wanted glory and since, as a woman, most paths to glory were not available to her, she decided to be a great saint, attaining sanctity by what she calls her "little way", which really means doing very ordinary, everyday things as well as she possibly could: an idea that has its own particular integrity.
One of the characters in Jayne Ayre dies of TB and says it is a peaceful way of going. Therese doesn't. As well as the obvious racking cough she had bedsores that made it agony to sit up in bed to get her breath, she had suppurating abscesses under her arms, her gut was infiltrated with the disease, and probably her peritoneum because she had agonising abdominal pain and vomiting plus an awful thirst. She doesn't exactly suffer in silence - she tells her sisters that she is tempted to suicide - but the pain doesn't destroy her spirit.
Therese and her family all come out as products of their time and particular milieu. Many people find them appealing, particularly Therese. I still find her a bit hard to take, myself, but Furlong's Therese is growing on me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details

Item

5.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer review)

4 star
0

3 star
0

2 star
0

1 star
0

£8.95
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 341,062