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American Saint: The Life of Elizabeth Seton
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American Saint: The Life of Elizabeth Seton

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  183 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
In this riveting biography of Elizabeth Seton critically acclaimed and bestselling author Joan Barthel tells the mesmerizing story of a woman whose life featured wealth and poverty, passion and sorrow, love and loss. Elizabeth was born into a prominent New York City family in 1774. Her father was the chief health officer for the Port of New York and she lived down the bloc ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Joanne Willey
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is really a great book! As an avid book reader I have to say this is one of the best biographical books that I have read in a long time. Hard to put down once starting to read because you want to know what is happening next in Elizabeths life. I find there are less and less non fiction books out there and this was a welcome read to me. I absolutely loved to go through life with her. The trials and tribulations and yet her work is still happening now.
May 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-fun, 2014, arc
(This was originally published on my blog:

Having been to Elizabeth Ann Seton’s shrine at Emmitsburg, Maryland, several times, I was very happy to review Joan Barthel’s recent biography (published March 4, 2014) of Seton, the first canonized American saint. Barthel handles Seton’s writings well, and gives a nice overview of Seton’s life and her founding of the (American) Sisters of Charity.

I did have several issues with the book, however, the first of wh
Aug 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I have quibbles with the structure and presentation, but Seton is a difficult subject to build a biography around so Barthel has my sympathies.

On the down side, the first part of the book is a sequential relation of Seton's life from childhood to the death of her husband in Italy, but the narrative is interrupted at irregular intervals with short episodes of her and her husband's three week in quarantine imprisonment while his consumption slowly worsened. The episodic glimpses suggest that the d
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This significant, personal biography was available to me through NetGalley for review purposes, and I was impressed and enthralled with it.Prior to this book I had only a vague idea of the details of the life of the first American saint and how meaningful was her life and the times in which it was lived.

I feel it is an important work, as it lays out the events of Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton's life, though her own diaries and personal correspondence of friends and family members for the judicious
Kelly Kirtley
Mar 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This book has great potential but left me dissapointed. It starts off with an introduction by Maya Angelou which tips you off to the type of feminism laced throughout the book. Why does gay marriage and contraception have to be part of all feminist debate? Women reduce themselves when they make sex their argument.

The book is clouded by details and people, sometimes hard to keep track but once i got into the flow of main characters it was fine. I found the author liked to name drop. Mrs. Seaton
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Oscar Wilde said "Every saint has a past and every sinner a future." This particular saint had quite a checkered past. She married young and had five children. Her family and herself included had a slave or slaves. She went from riches to rags, from Protestant faith to Catholicism and to a form of nunnery. She went speedily from wife to widow and to the loss of two children while at fairly young ages. While her character doesn't exude exceptional abilities she did allow for nuns to have an indep ...more
Sharon Huether
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, christian
American Saint: The Life of Elizabeth Joan Barthel.. Elizabeth grew up giving God the glory for all of nature and everything she saw. She studied the scriptures as a young woman and also the Psalms. He backgound in Spiritual things was void. Her father never attended church or spoke of God. She had many children and was their teacher in subjects, and English and French. She started a school after her husband died. She became a Catholic. She loved to worship God in the beautiful ornate ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won a copy of this book in the Goodreads First Reads Program.

I had never heard of Elizabeth Seton before reading this book. I had no idea that she was the first American born saint. I think this biography did an excellent job capturing the struggles she went through when trying to decide what she believed and what faith was right for her. Once she made her decision, she was completely devoted to her faith despite the conflict that followed her choice.

The first few chapters were a little diffi
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to reading this book, however, while I am not sorry to have read it, the author has disappointed me. The first half of the book is poorly organized and goes back and forth between different points in Elizabeth's life. While her connection to early American history is quite interesting the story reads very choppy and disjointed. The second half was better after Elizabeth arrives at Emmitsburg. The other thing that really bothered me about this book was its negative fe ...more
Christopher Smith
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
While learning more about Elizabeth Ann Seton was enjoyable, the author employed a disjointed methodology in telling her story. Many times, the authored jumped from one time period (or one continent) to another for one or two paragraphs, only to return to the previous period. It made it difficult, for me, to get into a rhythm while reading the book.

Additionally, there were plenty of not-so-subtle jabs at the male hierarchy of the Church. For example, when writing about Elizabeth's final resting
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Joan Barthel is the award-winning author of five nonfiction books and a contributor to many national publications. Her cover story on Elizabeth Seton in the Times Magazine inspired her to bring the singular life of this first American-born saint into contemporary focus and ultimately led to her book American Saint.

With her first book, A Death in Canaan, Barthel uncovered the miscarriage of justice
More about Joan Barthel...