Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man” as Want to Read:
Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The life of Jean Vanier, founder of l'Arche, who changed the way the world views disability

It's a crazy story. In August 1964 a thirty-six-year-old Canadian from a famous family - one who has already joined the navy during war at age thirteen, become an officer, earned a PhD, and taught ethics at the University of Toronto -- takes up residence in a little house he just
Paperback, 250 pages
Published August 4th 2019 by Plough Publishing House
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Jean Vanier, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Jean Vanier

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  34 ratings  ·  26 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
Thanks to Netgalley and Plough House Publishing for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

A truly inspirational story of a man who devoted his life to helping others. The late Jean Vanier was the fourth child in a family of five born to former Canadian Governor General Georges Vanier and his wife Pauline Archer. A Navy man, a philosopher, a theologian and a humanitarian, Jean Vanier is most well known for founding L'Arche in 1964, an international community for people with
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-books
Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man by Anne-Sophie Constant is a well-written and informative biography of a selfless man who made such a difference in countless lives. Jean Vanier, at the age of thirteen, joined the military and became an officer during his eight years there. After obtaining a PhD, he became an ethics lecturer at the University of Toronto. In 1964, at the age of thirty-six, the young Canadian established a home for two mentally disabled men in Trosly, France. The cottage, ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, rec
“Jean Vanier, Portrait of a Free Man” is an inspiring book. It is about the fascinating life of Jean Vanier (September 10, 1928 – May 7, 2019) a Canadian philosopher and humanitarian who founded networks of communities which house and advocate for people living with intellectual disabilities.

From 1964, after discovering the terrible living conditions that psychiatric patients had to endure in asylums in France, Jean Vanier started living with a small group of people with intellectual
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Summary: A biography of Jean Vanier, the founder and guide of the L'Arche homes where assistants and cognitively disabled live together in community.

On May 7, 2019, one of the most remarkable saints of our era went to his eternal rest and reward. Anne-Sophie Constant, who enjoyed extraordinary access to this man, completed earlier in the year her biography of Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche houses for the disabled. She describes a man who lived at peace, and as a truly free man during his
A man who loved silence but dedicated his life to others, believing that faith required action. A soldier who lived peacefully, bring peace to others. An intellectual who found his true being in relationship not understanding, who believed, in fact, that that understanding followed trust and obedience.

Jean Vanier, who died in May at the age of 90, was, in my opinion, a hero and a saint. Beloved by thousands of ordinary people of all faiths, he was also admired by Pope John Paul II and the
Tamara Murphy
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, plough-reviews
It’s a curious thing about us humans that we often delay our acquaintanceship with the work of remarkable humans until they die. For that reason, this August may be perfect timing for this new release from Plough Publishing House as the world mourns the loss of Jean Vanier, age 90, in May. For those like me who have circled around the writing and wisdom of the man who traded in a life of the political and academic elite to found L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 ...more
Cristie Underwood
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Wow! There are some people that you read about and think about how little you have done with your own life to help others. Jean Vanier came from a famous and wealthy family and had the compassion to create a place for two mentally disabled men to live that he didn't even know well. Who can say they would do the same? From there, he created homes for disabled people and volunteers to live. I was very humbled reading this, as it is amazing at how much he accomplished.
Kim Pollack
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We live in a world that makes a fuss over men who run around chasing each other and throwing balls for a living. We make idols of surgically-enhanced actors or actresses in superhero constumes or singers who leave their pants at home when they perform. We love spectacle. We love drama. We love obnoxious, outrageous behavior. But, much of the time, the true heroes are those who live out of the limelight, serving their fellow humans every day with whatever resources they have.

The book Jean Vanier:
Toni Osborne
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Portrait of a Free Man

Who is Jean Vanier:

Jean Vanier is the founder of L'Arche communities, where a small number of people with and without intellectual disabilities live together in a spirit of conviviality and sharing. This is an expensive biography devoted to him by Anne-Sophie Constant and a nice presentation of a man out of the ordinary. Reading this book, one inevitably feels the friendship that united them …..

The pen of Anne Sophie Constant is crystal clear she paints a portrait of a
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jean Vanier, who died recently, was the founder of the L’Arche communities, where adults with intellectual disabilities live alongside those without. There are today 154 such communities in 38 countries. This is an excellent and thoroughly researched biography of Vanier, and an inspirational account of a remarkable man. It brings him alive in all his complexity, and I found the book a fascinating and powerful read.
Lory Hess
See my full review at The Emerald City Book Review. A copy was received for review purposes from the publisher. No other compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are my own.When I was living in a community with adults with developmental disabilities, one of my colleagues told me he had been inspired to take up this work by the writings of Jean Vanier, founder of the international L'Arche movement. I was intrigued, because I had never heard of the man or the movement, and I wanted to ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it

I asked my friend who works with special needs folks if she'd heard of "Jeen Vayneer" and she squinted and said no. I described him and she said, "Oh! Jzun Von-yay." Yeah, that one. I don't like saying French things unless I'm provoked. It feels uppity.

Jean was Canadian and the opposite of uppity. He was almost a philosophy professor when he was 30. Then he decided to spend his life with the mentally disabled. He died at the age of 90 in May 2019.

The reason I picked up this book about Jean's
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man is a well-written biography. I was overwhelmed at times by the unfamiliar people and places in his life. Also, my lack of knowledge of theologians and their beliefs put me at a disadvantage.

He has done great good in his life helping people with physical and mental disabilities. I wish we could apply his thinking and methods to our growing homeless populations. When I entered a giveaway hoping to win a copy of this book, I had anticipated learning more about
Joseph J.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those seeking a light in an often dark discouraging world
Jean Vanier was a free man indeed: Free of attachment to material things and the world's definition of financial success. Free of the expectation of others-including family-in how he should live his life. Vanier, from a politically powerful family and trained for a naval career (he danced with Princess Margaret), set out on a pilgrimage of French villages and life in primative huts to find his calling and place in life. He responded to society's cruel rejection of the mentally unstable and ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and inspirational life.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Before I started reading this biography I knew nothing about either Jean Vanier or the L'Arche Community, which Jean founded. I love reading about interesting people and I learning something new about the world, so the information posted about this book got my attention; the book kept it. The author wrote in a very conversational way I found engaging. As for Vanier, it was clear from an early age - - 12 - - when he decided to leave his Catholic Canadian family to attend a Protestant Naval ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have known about the L'Arche communities for some time, but only the most basic knowledge. I knew nothing about the founder, Jean Vanier.

This book is a gem in giving one a look at who Jean Vanier is (was,) how his life formed him to become the man he was and how he allowed God the freedom to work in him and lead him. Having finished the book I regret I never met this man.

Reading his words brought me to tears at times. The author provided a glimpse of a truly special human being, who even
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this as a arc e book from Net Galley for my i pad. I enjoyed reading it. It is about the founder of the L'arche community. This was a group home setting for mentally handicap or intellectual disabled people. My parish priest at the catholic church I attend took a year off as a priest and worked at one of these communities in Ontario. He mentions it sometimes in his Homilies at mass that it was a rewarding experience for him. I was glad to get this book from Net Galley to find out more ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5* star because I knew little about Jean Vanier and this book helped me to understand him and what he did.
A book for of food for thought.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
William Stanger
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

This is a wonderful, short biography of a man who I believe to be one of Canada's national treasures, the late Jean Vanier. I have to admit that, apart from being the founder of L'Arche, there was very little that I knew about Vanier's life. Although this is what he is rightly remembered fondly for, this book showed that there was so much more to him. The author has given us a quite condensed
Pamela Barrett
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I remember seeing a documentary on L’Arche years ago and being touched by
the feeling of love and compassion Jean Vanier had for each person. And I knew first hand that giving yourself; your time, your energy, and your emotions to a person with mental and physical limitations is not a easy path. Especially in a “me first” world where slowing down long enough to listen is a major effort. In Portrait of a Free Man his biographer shows us how Jean Vanier found his calling-not only help men
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
It seems like this guy did great things, but as at least one other reviewer mentioned, the writing wasn't outstanding. And in general, it was all a little so precious at times it made me cringe.
Sorry, Jock.

G. Salter
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, inspirating story about a man who dedicated his life to helping people with disabilities find community and room to grow. Well worth reading even if you don't know much about disability studies.
Trevor Smith
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book about an amazing life. Convicting and inspiring.
Tony Carey
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book full of love and wisdom.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
rated it it was amazing
Jul 02, 2019
Mindy Goorchenko
rated it really liked it
Jun 27, 2019
thomas e hickey
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2019
Mark Wurtz
rated it it was amazing
Aug 27, 2019
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Carpe Diem Redeemed: Seizing the Day, Discerning the Times
  • Mostly Sunny: How I Learned to Keep Smiling Through the Rainiest Days
  • Another Night, Another Day
  • Fast Food
  • Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety
  • The Heart's Necessities: Life in Poetry
  • What Does It Feel Like to Die?: Inspiring New Insights Into the Experience of Dying
  • Gwendy's Magic Feather
  • The Dearly Beloved
  • As Long as We Both Shall Live
  • Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God
  • Good Girls Stay Quiet
  • The Awakened (The Lazarus Chronicles, #1)
  • Rocket Boys (Coalwood #1)
  • Unscripted
  • The Ascension (The Lazarus Chronicles, #2)
  • The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For and Believe
See similar books…