Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sister Teresa by Barbara Jujica

Sister Teresa
Barbara Mujica, The Overlook Press, 2007, $24.95 (U.S.) $31.00 (CAN), soft cover, 383 pages, ISBN 1-58567-834-1
Saint Teresa of Avila is the compelling story of a young woman of renowned beauty who became the beloved patron saint of Spain. During the Spanish Inquisition of the 1500’s, Teresa, the daughter of rich parents, lived a life of comfort and wealth. For young noblewomen, there were two possibilities, namely marriage or the convent. When she began to take an interest in a handsome young man and romantic books of chivalry, her father took offence because such passions only diminished Teresa's value as a potential bride. During this time, her mother died. At the age of eighteen, her father sent her to board with the Augustinian nuns at Santa Maria de Gracia for guidance and discipline. She was not happy to be there and ill health soon forced her to return home.

Under her father’s roof, Teresa once again faced the choice: marriage or the convent. One night, she ran away to the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation. While there, Teresa discovered piety and became a nun. Ill health continued to plague Teresa. During one bout of illness, she fell into a coma so profound that all believed her dead, but she came back to life just before her burial but was paralyzed in her legs for 3 years.

The story unfolds through the eyes of her childhood servant and friend, Sister Angelica who follows her mistress throughout her tumultuous life as a mystic, her religious fervors, mysterious illnesses, sexual scandals, and the founding of convents. Barbara Mujica brings this tumultuous time in history to vivid life. A very interesting and compelling novel to read where the focus is more upon the life of this woman than religion.

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