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And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life
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Joy D | 3070 comments And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life by Jane Christmas - 4 stars

PBT Comments: While this book contains a bit of English history, I would classify it primarily as a memoir. 3.5 rounded up. I thought the play on words of the title was very clever.

Non-fiction account of the author’s spiritual journey to determine whether she would become a nun. I have always been curious about why a person is drawn to become a nun, how they live, and what their daily routine is like. This book answers those questions and does so with a large dose of self-deprecating humor. It also involves making peace with a past trauma in her life and explores the role of spirituality in the modern world. It takes the reader behind the scenes into four monastic communities, two Anglican and two Roman Catholic in three locations: one in Toronto, Canada, two in the Isle of Wight, and one in North Yorkshire, England.

Jane Christmas is a Canadian whose mother is Roman Catholic, and father was Anglican. She has been a journalist and communications manager in the business and non-profit sectors. She has a different background than I was expecting when reading about nuns, as she has been twice married and is a mother with grown children. I had always thought of nuns as part of the Catholic religion and was unaware that they are also part of the Anglican religion. Since her early years, she had envisioned herself becoming a nun, but had never pursued it. After a marriage proposal from her then-boyfriend, she needed to decide which path to take.

I liked that this book comes right out and says it is about the religious life. It does not masquerade as something other than what it is. Her views can be considered progressive, and she takes the church to task on the treatment of women and the gay community. However, to me it reads more like a memoir, a documentation of her journey in faith, than social commentary. I liked that she shows the power of silence, patience, listening, and contemplation in our increasingly distracted, noise-filled society, and how it can help in gaining internal perspective. Recommended to those interested in spiritual journeys or understanding how a modern convent operates.

Link to My Review


message 2: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6082 comments Very intrigued by this! I grew up Catholic, attended parochial school and just let me say all of the students were intrigued by the questions of what drew someone to that life and what that life in the convent was like...this was the 1960s, right before and after Vatican II when things like the obligation to wear habits changed.

As an adult, I became close friends with a woman who after high school entered a convent but ultimately did not take final vows and left because she realized she wanted the chance to have a husband and children, a traditional family. And she has.

I might just suggest we both read this to discuss! Thanks Joy for bringing this to my attention.


message 3: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1111 comments Thank you for your review. I found it very interesting and especially liked your comment about "the power of silence, patience, listening and contemplation."


Joy D | 3070 comments Theresa wrote: "Very intrigued by this! I grew up Catholic, attended parochial school...Thanks Joy for bringing this to my attention."

Interesting story, Theresa, you're welcome!

Holly R W wrote: "Thank you for your review. I found it very interesting and especially liked your comment about "the power of silence, patience, listening and contemplation.""

Thanks, Holly!


message 5: by annapi (new)

annapi | 4856 comments My sister and I went to an all-girls Catholic school in the Philippines run by nuns, and my sister once contemplated entering the convent. To her surprise (because my sister thought it would please her), it was my grandmother who persuaded her to not do so. My sister is now happily married with a child.


message 6: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7114 comments I also attended Parochial school, and the nuns always mystified me, and some of them actually frightened, not only me, but entire classrooms!-Very nice review I may have to pick this one up.


Joy D | 3070 comments I am enjoying the personal comments, annapi & Joanne. Thanks for sharing.


Kimberly Ann (auntie-nanuuq) | 753 comments Joy D wrote: "And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life by Jane Christmas - 4 stars

PBT Comments: While this book contains a bit of English history, I would clas..."


Think I'm going to try this one!


Joy D | 3070 comments Hope you enjoy it, Kimberly!


message 10: by NancyJ (last edited Apr 10, 2019 08:26AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4890 comments I'm glad I read your review. Otherwise I might have thought (from the title) that it was a cozy mystery. This sounds interesting. I took weekend classes with a nun who held a leadership role with the catholic school system in her region. She was funny and kind, with great listening skills. She said that the church was very hierarchical, and education is the main way for a woman to have any real influence. One of the problems they face is that there aren't enough young women entering religious life. They wonder who will care for all the older nuns at the end of their lives.


Joy D | 3070 comments NancyJ wrote: "I'm glad I read your review. Otherwise I might have thought (from the title) that it was a cozy mystery. This sounds interesting. I took weekend classes with a nun who held a leadership role with t..."

Yes, this book touches on the concerns about the dwindling numbers of people drawn to a cloistered religious life. It also clears up a misconception that the church supports convents and monasteries. They don't.


message 12: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7114 comments NancyJ wrote: "I'm glad I read your review. Otherwise I might have thought (from the title) that it was a cozy mystery. This sounds interesting. I took weekend classes with a nun who held a leadership role with t..."

Had to reply to you here Nancy-the Nun you met and the nuns from the 60's are two very different species-😂


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