Friday, July 19, 2013

Kicking The Habit

Kicking The Habit:

From Convent to Casualty in 1960s Liverpool

By Eleanor Stewart

Published by Lion Books, 21st June 2013

From the first page to the last, this book was a pleasure to read as well as being a revelation.  As a young woman, Eleanor Stewart wondered if she might have a vocation to the religious life even though she loved to socialize and go out on dates.

Her quest led her to join a community of nuns who had convents in the UK even though their Mother House was in France and soon Eleanor was on her way to a new life in France.

Like so  many of us, I  have often wondered about what life in a convent is really like. How on earth do you manage when you are immersed in a foreign language?  What makes a postulant finally decide to take vows? What happens if you cannot get on with some of the nuns? Do nuns ever smoke? Are they allowed to use modern sanitary protection? There are so many unknowns about life inside a convent and this is the first book I have read which deals with the everyday minutiae as well as the spiritual side of things.

Written with enormous good humour and love for her fellow nuns, Eleanor finds the funny side of  the most unlikely situations and speaks candidly - but always respectfully and with great affection - of the time she spent as a nun, and how much she loved it and benefited from it. The ill-health of her mother and breakdown of her parents' marriage was a worry to her and life at the convent was not always easy, especially when doubts about her vocation started to creep in .

Her transfer back to a British convent and her training as a nurse and then as a midwife gradually convinced her that much as she loved the convent life, she also dearly loved her working life at the hospital and eventually she realised that, deep down, she did want to get married and have a family after eight years in a convent.

She leaves the convent at the end of this book, but I have a feeling that we will be hearing more about  her subsequent life in a future book as she is a born storyteller with a wonderful and very natural style of writing. An absolute treasure of a book, and one which will certainly find a permanent place in my collection!

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1 comment:

Susie Hemingway said...

Quite fancy reading that - sounds good. I'm due for a little Amazon! Thanks for the good review.