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The Company of Women

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  221 ratings  ·  22 reviews
"A superb, stunningly written novel." The Philadelphia Inquirer
Raised by five intensely religious women and a charismatic, controversial priest, sheltered from the secular world, Felicitas Maria Taylor is intelligent, charming, and desperate for a taste of ordinary happiness. More freedom than she has ever imagined awaits her at Columbia University in the 1960s. There, Fel
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 12th 1986 by Ballantine Books (first published 1980)
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Carol Storm
Her holy Catholic purity drove men mad with desire --- but it was her soaring intellect that made her a feminist legend!

Innocent, sheltered Felicitas never knew desire -- until a ruthless professor turned political activist invited her on a Magical Mystery Tour of decadent passion!

The year was 1969. Fresh from the secluded innocence of a sheltered upbringing in Queens, Felicitas Maria Taylor was determined to make her mother, her mother's friends, and her parish priest all proud -- to become bot
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Elizabeth Quinn
SPOILER ALERT: This 1980 novel tells the story of Felicitas Taylor, whose widowed mother is among a group of New York City five women in the thrall of a conversative Roman Catholic priest named Father Cyprian. The women, all single or widowed, form the company of women who raise the young girl. Overseeing them is Cyprian, who left his order following the Vatican II liberalization and eventually retreats to the rural town in upstate New York where he was born and raised. The story opens in 1963, ...more
Trisha
Having recently re-read (and liked very much) Mary Gordon’s Final Payments I decided to track down her next book, published a few later in 1980. Set in three separate time periods between 1963 and 1977, the book’s protagonist is a young girl named Felicitas who is being raised by her widowed mother, and her mother’s close-knit circle of friends, all of whom are feverishly devoted to an archly conservative priest whose dictatorial influence on them all verges on despotism. A father figure to Fel ...more
Emma
Feb 20, 2008 Emma rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Catholics, nostalgic for the 60s leftists, people who've had crappy priests/boyfriends
Ok, so I read this a while ago. And it's a trade paperback book. And something about it feels a little trashy and a little Judy Blume-ish. And it's about this old school Catholic family and this bizarro rigid priest and this girl who goes a little wild with her crappy leftist boyfriend, because it's the 60's and she's discovering herself but finding herself stuck in a new equally rigid paradigm.

I like it for all the wrong reasons, but I liked it. And it didn't feel like genre fiction at all and
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Felicity Gibson
The Company of Women by Mary Gordon
Read October 30th 2013

This is another one I found on my errant laptop.

There is an edge of bitterness on entering this story. It starts on a religious note and then evolves into a magical explanation of the relationships of a cluster of characters. The central character, at the beginning of the story is a teenager – a real voice. The narrative unfolds slowly and reluctantly. From the positive beginning, the entry of negative emotions is one of surprise. The rela
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Raenette Palmer
What a boring book! I read it for a friend and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The writing is terrible. She uses the same phrases over and over again and I had a hard time keeping who the women were straight.
Patty Mccormick
Hmm. What can I say about this one. First off, I am not a catholic, so some of this was kind of lost on me. I found this book unusual. There is Father Cyprian with out a congregation. This makes him somewhat of a failure in my book, but he has a following of women who come to see him once a year. Seems weird to me. One of the women has a daughter, Felicitas. Felicitas goes away to college and begins doing all kinds of unspeakable things and loses her way. She gets pregnant, comes home and then h ...more
Susan Emmet
Although not raised Catholic, I had alot of Catholic friends. At St. Philip Neri Church in Centerport, NY, I used to sneak in with these friends and wish I could be forgiven my sins and say some Hail Marys. This was in the early 60s.
Learned about Mary Gordon from some other reading I'd done and so took TCOW off the shelf at the library. It'd been signed out in 1997 and now by me in 2013. There are burn marks on the pages in the 1977 end part of the book. Odd.
I liked this novel despite not unders
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Mandy
First published in 1980, this beautifully written novel by Mary Gordon is an empathetic and moving portrait of a group of women in thrall to a charismatic but conservative and despotic priest. The five women live in New York City and are close friends. All are either widowed or single, and only one of them, Charlotte, has a child. The narrative centres on this child, Felicitas, who is 14 when the story opens. She is an intelligent but socially awkward girl, out of step with modern America, and e ...more
Laura
This is a story definitely rooted in its particular place and time – the 1960’s and its clash of cultures: formal and polite and rigid Catholicism meets the secular and intellectual fervor at the time of the Vietnam War. Felicitas is the daughter of Charlotte, god daughter and companion of Elizabeth, Mary Rose, Clare and Muriel; the man in all of their lives is Father Cyprian, an emotionally cold priest around whom they all revolve.

This story is grounded in a deep understanding of Roman Catholi
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Bea
I hated the start of this book and initially thought I would give it only 2 stars. For me, it was too old fashioned and Catholic in flavor. Then I hit the middle part where the focus was on Felicitas' life and I began to think this book might turn out to be OK. However, I think the third part of this book is the best. It is short and is the musings of each of the main characters about their current life. The author speaks in each one's voice in such a way that each one takes on reality and fulln ...more
Wiley R
This was super weird.
Kat
I really enjoyed rereading this story of an intellectually gifted girl who grows up in the company of five women (including her mother) and a priest without a parish. Set in the sixties and seventies, it uses a small canvas to show the great changes in society and in the Catholic Church that took place during those years. The characters are distinct and fully realized, the issues are important, and the prose used to discuss religious feeling is remarkable.
Bonnie
What a wonderful book. Loved the story, the characters are so real and believeable. It explains alot about the Catholic religion and friends in a very interesting way. Her writing is wonderful, did I say wonderful enough here. Now I have yet another favorite author. This was a library book, I liked it enough that I went to Barnes and Noble and used a gift card I had to purchase her (I think) latest book "Spending."
Kara
Intersting topic, but so hard to get through. It felt all over the place and so slow to start. It thought the second part was good, but the end left me disappointed. It might have been better for someone who was raised a Catholic in the time period the book takes place... 1950's/ 1960's. I had a hard time relating to it.
Jessie
Fascinating tale of tension between family and culture: the story of a young woman bridging the gap between the contemporary world of her peers and the eclectic community of relatives and nuns who raised her.
Jlrowcliffe
I don't know why this 1981 book has been on my bookshelves - in several different locations - and I never read it. Wonderful, thoughtful, provocative.
Susan


Another superb novel by Mary Gordon, this is about women and friendship and
the place of the church in some lives. So
beautifully written...
BoekenTrol
Feb 02, 2012 BoekenTrol marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: Moem
From one of the book boxes that Moem sent to me. It certainly looks in teresting. It'll hang around here, untillI get to read it.
Roussie
Five women's attachment to a Catholic priest. Must be the wrong book at the wrong time for me because I couldn't finish it.
Hazel
Like Mary Gordon's other book I read, Final Payments, this was quite good; I like her development of the characters.
Terri
One of my favorite stories.
Virditas
Virditas marked it as to-read
Jan 14, 2015
Leslie
Leslie marked it as to-read
Jan 10, 2015
Sherri
Sherri added it
Jan 21, 2015
Zac
Zac is currently reading it
Dec 19, 2014
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Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, New York, to Anna Gagliano Gordon, an Italian-Irish Catholic mother, and David Gordon, a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. While growing up, she attended Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream and for high school attended The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica, N.Y.. She is Catholic.

She received her A.B. from Barnard College in 1971, and her M.A. from
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More about Mary Gordon...
Spending The Love of My Youth Final Payments Pearl Joan of Arc

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