A New York Times bestseller for 23 weeks
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
"A strange and beautiful book...Part memoir, part meditation, it is a remarkable piece of writing." -The Boston Globe
"The Cloister Walk is a new opportunity to discover a remarkable writer with a huge, wise heart...Norris resonates deeply for a lot of people: She's one of those writers who demands to be handed around. You want to share this great discovery, giving her work as a gift3/4or you simply shove a copy in the face of a friend, saying 'Read this.'" -Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The allure of the monastic life baffles most lay people, but in her second book Norris (Dakota) goes far in explaining it. The author, raised Protestant, has been a Benedictine oblate, or lay associate, for 10 years, and has lived at a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota for two. Here, she compresses these years of experience into the diary of one liturgical year, offering observations on subjects ranging from celibacy to dealing with emotions to Christmas music. Like the liturgy she loves, this meandering, often repetitive book is perhaps best approached through the lectio divina practiced by the Benedictines, in which one tries to "surrender to whatever word or phrase captures the attention." There is a certain nervous facility to some of Norris's jabs at academics, and she is sometimes sanctimonious. But there is no doubting her conviction, exemplified in her defense of the much-maligned Catholic "virgin martyrs," whose relevance and heroism she wants to redeem for feminists. What emerges, finally, is an affecting portrait?one of the most vibrant since Merton's?of the misunderstood, often invisible world of monastics, as seen by a restless, generous intelligence.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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March 31, 1997
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