12 June 2009

Amata Means Beloved

Amata Means Beloved is a novel by Sr Mary Catharine Perry OP (Order of Preachers - the Dominicans), following the story of Emily Barone/Sr Maria Amata as she enters an enclosed Dominican monastery. It's quite short at just 108 pages, but reasonably well-written. The story focuses on the innerness of the journey of the new novice and her struggle to forgive the man who murdered her brother. Because it's written by a Dominican, the innerness is both well captured and well understood, with that indefinable sense of "having been there" breathing through every word and vignette.

The character of Emily/Maria Amata is strongly realised, the other nuns slightly less so, although somehow Sr M Catharine has caught the flavour of each nun's character in a fairly short space of time. There is a personal dispute hinted at between Maria Amata and another nun, but we never find out what the issue is there, but it does reveal that sense that the community is not all-of-a-piece.

There was one truly hilarious piece of dialogue in one of the recreations, when the nuns were talking about what they might be doing if they weren't nuns:

[Sr Regina, a former model]: "... do you still think I'd be doing much modeling at 57?"
"Maybe you'd be doing Vioxx ads" said Sister Maria Amata. "You know: 'After thirty-five years of modeling my smile has arthritis. With Vioxx I can continue smiling all day!'"

I'd score this one at 3 1/2 to 4 stars out of 5, especially if you like "nun stories". I'm interested to see if Sr Mary Catharine writes anything else!

Pachyderm tssf

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