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Dorothy Day; The World Will Be Saved By Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of Dorothy Day

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  603 ratings  ·  124 reviews
The life and work of Dorothy Day—the iconic, celebrated, and controversial Catholic whom Pope Francis called a “great American”—told with illuminating detail by her granddaughter.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a prominent Catholic, writer, social activist, and co-founder of a movement dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor. Her life has been revealed through her own
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Scribner
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Kerry Egan I would start with The Long Loneliness. Let Dorothy Day tell you herself who she is first, you know? And it's a marvel of a book. The kind of book…moreI would start with The Long Loneliness. Let Dorothy Day tell you herself who she is first, you know? And it's a marvel of a book. The kind of book that took my breath away. (less)

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Kressel Housman
Even though I’m an Orthodox Jew, I have a deep connection to Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker movement. I volunteered at one of her “hospitality centers” a/k/a homeless shelters when I was in high school, and it was there that I was given the name of the man who would eventually become my first rabbi, Reb Shlomo Carlebach. I was also offered the chance to live there as a volunteer, but I did the conventional thing and went to college instead. What a mistake! I might have lived the life of ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an insider biography of Dorothy Day, a relational memoir of the mother-daughter relationship between the activist Day and her only living child, Tamar. Kate Hennessey, Day’s youngest granddaughter, explores the legacy of Day, not as the 20th century prophet, the social activist, the prolific writer who gave life to numerous communities of radical Gospel hospitality, simplicity and prayer, but as the single mother of a daughter who she never understood and often left feeling neglected, ...more
Donna Davis
Dorothy Day is an interesting historical figure, the woman that founded The Catholic Worker, which was initially a combined newspaper, homeless shelter, and soup kitchen. I once subscribed to The Catholic Worker, and since it cost one penny per issue, you couldn’t beat the price. I saw this biography available and snapped it up from Net Galley; thanks go to them and Scribner, who provided me with a DRC in exchange for an honest review. This title was published in late January and is now ...more
Berni Phillips
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: religious
This biography of Dorothy Day was written by her youngest granddaughter, and I think it is as much a biography of Day's daughter, Tamar, as it is of the famous mother.

Dorothy Day was an American icon, foundress of the Catholic Worker movement (and newspaper) which opened houses of hospitality during the Great Depression, taking in all the poor and unwanted, feeding them, providing them shelter, and taking care of them as far was possible. She was a pacifist, arrested in various marches and for
Jan 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
A dreary book. The writing is dry and often stilted. Stories come across like a soda gone flat -- I can imagine they would have been more interesting had the writing been better.

The author is, perhaps, too close to her subject to give a good account. To my taste, she spends waaaay too much time discussing her mother (Day's daughter) and father, not to mention her own life.

I appreciate getting a perspective of Day that is human, not hagiographical, but I have rarely read a more tedious book.
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was an unexpected delight. I found myself profoundly moved by the relationships between Dorothy and the people in her life whom she loved.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Slow start, and not exactly what it appears to be. It is much more an author trying to come to terms with and understand her grandmother, mother, and herself. It's not as much a biography of Day as it is an attempt to understand the generations of women in their family. Still, a good read and interesting as I didn't know much about the Catholic Workers Movement.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
In addition to this being a biography of Dorothy Day, it is also a story of a woman coming to terms with her family history. I think the story could have been better organized and more tightly told, but nevertheless it is a story worth entering into. I'm glad I stuck with it to the end.
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Dorothy Day is a fascinating person, and her story was very different than I would have guessed from the vague cultural sense I've picked up about the Catholic Worker movement. This book is written by her granddaughter, so it's a more personal version and focuses on Dorothy's difficult relationship with her only child Tamar. (Imagine growing up in a series of poverty-and politics-infused Catholic Worker houses and farmsteads with a mother many would call a Saint.)

It was interesting to read now
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buy
Beautiful insights into Dorothy's conversion; the struggle of being human and trying to respond to the Divine. Her relationship with Forster during and after her conversion is particularly human. The book also offers insights into the Catholic Worker movement and all the complexities of trying to love and minister to the poor. The major focus though is how Dorothy lived that reality while also being a mother and grandmother, and how her humanity impacted them and their relationship to the ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve always admired Dorothy Day, not just for founding the Catholic Worker movement, but also for her imperfections. She seems to me so human. Kate Hennessy, her granddaughter, has written an intimate portrait of her grandmother.
(Note: I received pre-publication access through Edelweiss.)
Susan Oleksiw
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Dorothy Day seems to have fallen into her future fame and success accidentally. After what she called a "disorderly" life lived in Bohemian New York, where she knew Eugene O'Neill and many others of stature, Day moved about the country as a journalist until she returned to New York and started the newspaper Catholic Worker with a friend. Meant to replace other failed newspapers of similar philosophical leanings, the CW was an overnight sensation, bringing in funds undreamed of. But this success ...more
McKenzie Watson
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I tore through this book.
Dorothy Day has long been a source of inspiration for me, despite my superficial and factually sporadic acquaintance with her life and work. I knew of her as the founder of the Catholic Worker and committed to living out the acts of mercy. My freshman year of college I read a single column of hers on assignment for a course with my favorite philosophy professor in which she referenced the idea of ‘round table discussions’: that they are so pleasant and edifying, and we
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The beginning of this book was slow and vague. I understand why the author wanted to include information about her grandmother's early life, but she was a couple of generations removed from it, and most of the information is already available elsewhere. Because there are no footnotes, we don't know where the author got the information and how accurate it it.

Once the story gets to the point where Tamar, the author's mother, is born, it gets a lot more interesting, probably because they author
BJ  Brown
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The Catholic Worker I knew in the the early 1980s ranged from crazy and unthinking to generous hospitality. I remember reading a pamphlet of Peter Maurin's Easy Essays, but I'm no longer sure all of what I've read by or about Dorothy Day: certainly some newspaper columns, and Loves and Fishes and probably the Long Loneliness and William Miller's biography. I know I attended an evening or two for clarification of thought at either Joseph or Mary House on the Lower East Side, and that at Day's ...more
Elyse Hayes
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finished this wonderful book. Beautifully written. Not solely a biography of Dorothy. Because it is written by a family member, it gives you insight into the whole, messy extended family of Dorothy Day and the messiness of the Catholic Worker communities. Written with a generous heart, Kate Hennessy valiantly tries to let us know who the unknowable Dorothy Day was - and who Kate's mother, Tamar was. She kept trying over many years to get Tamar to share herself, but it was difficult. ...more
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book. I don’t even remember from whence I got the recommendation and bought it on a whim, though it was weeks or maybe months ago. I had only heard of Dorothy Day in passing and had never heard of the Catholic Worker. This is a beautiful, at times heartbreaking, love story - Tamar’s Love for Dorothy, Dorothy’s Love for the Church, and Kate’s Love for them both. It was a fascinating look at a life lived big, a woman who spoke and acted on her ...more
Mary Helene
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Eloquently written. Engaging. Excellent. And yet, having just finished it, a sense of sadness comes over me. I knew Dorothy Day only from her writing and her witness which shaped my life and my decisions. It was like seeing a beautiful piece of needlework, an intricate and inspiring view of the world and our call to love in the most tangible of ways. This book is the flip side of the stitching. We see the knots and the crossed threads. It was hard to read emotionally for that reason.
Richard Corbett
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Truly beautifully written filled with love and honesty, with a clarity that is rich and full with depth. There has been many fine books written by and about Dorothy Day, and this one is a true added treasure. I am sure Hennessy did not know when she wrote this, that it is a book that should be read now more then ever to remember beauty and love even though it maybe hard at times.
May 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
I never knew who Dorothy Day was and from what I read in this book she never seemed like a woman I wanted to know more about. The book was written by her granddaughter and it was totally disorganized and filled with too many random details. This seemed more like a private collection of remembrances for a family then a published book.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Unfortunately the lack of organization, confusing flow of the book made for a tedious read at times. However, the personal and intimate details and anecdotes added to the charm of this method of telling Dorothy’s story. Perhaps if she had more structure and consistency, I would have enjoyed it more.
Mar 24, 2017 marked it as to-read
I'm adding to by list because of an NPR Fresh Air broadcast/interview I heard part of
Janice Falvey
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written by Dorothy Day's granddaughter.
Claire Lucas
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kate Hennessy reminded me that people who are most beautiful and holy are also often the most complex. Her honest stories of her grandmother are frank, heartfelt and yet gentle.
Michael Quillin
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Good, but less about DD and more about family, esp. daughter (it's written by granddaughter). Not any insight into the faith life or motivation of DD.
Corinne Wilson
Mar 16, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
DNF page 201. Too overdue too long
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautiful book, beautifully written, in which one of Dorothy Day's grand-daughters tries to save her from hagiography by giving an intimate account of the woman, particularly focused on her relationship with her daughter Tamar and her many grandchildren. The later chapters focus a great deal on mother-daughter relationships. You will not go away from this book with a deeper understanding of Day's thought, but with a richer understanding of how complex her life was, how she approached life as a ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a real find. A look not only into the life of Dorothy Day, but a look into the lives of everyone surrounding her.
A person who does as much with her life as Day - and who wrote as much as she did about her family - can and did have a tremendous impact on everyone around her in ways both good and terrible.

The early parts are riveting... her bohemian life in the early days of the 20th century, her affairs, her famous friends, her arrests and involvement in labor and social organizing
Leigh Kramer
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm not sure the first time I heard about Dorothy Day but I'd guess it was in one of my college sociology classes. Her work with the poor was unprecedented when it first began and the Catholic Worker continues to impact us today.

However, I was hazy on the particular details of Day's work and life. When I saw her granddaughter had written this biography, I was curious about what I'd find. This is about Dorothy, yes, but it is also a portrait of her daughter Tamar's life, as well as Kate. I'm
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting book, at least for me: raised in Jesuit schools, I heard a hell of a lot about Dorothy Day. But even in high school I knew her story was too hagiographical to be true, and her granddaughter’s book confirms this. Like Gandhi, MLK, and Jesus, she is a figure whose beliefs and legacy are endlessly manipulated to conform to her admirers’ own causes. It’s almost a relief, therefore, to see her exposed for the ideologically inconsistent but endlessly earnest individual she actually ...more
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“You and Aldous Huxley", she said, "both have the same superior hate for the rest of the human race and wouldn't go one inch out of your way to help anyone. Evil has far more reality than good in your minds.” 0 likes
“Dorothy's world had become very small-visits to the chapel downstairs, vespers, and Communion, and opera on the radio (including Wagner, whom she refused to let Hitler, or even Wagner himself, ruin for her).” 0 likes
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