WOMAN'S WAY TO GOD by Anne Fremantle


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That Anne Fremantle is an accomplished writer is again clear, as is her command of Western history and her understanding of arduous saintliness. The book's difficulties lie elsewhere. It falls into two parts: in two short essays, labeled ""introduction"" and ""chapter one,"" she brings to bear a wealth of learning, first, to say that women have always been important in the history of religion and, second, to point up the importance of the religious, here comprising nuns, monks, and hermits of ali faiths. This overture is followed by an array of 21 short biographies of saintly figures from Etheria in the fourth century to Mother Theresa who tests our own times from Calcutta. (This latter piece appears to be totally indebted to the Muggeridge book.) The pieces vary greatly in length and weight; those dealing with women in the Western tradition are informed by the author's considerable knowledge; those on Hindu and Muslim saints have less substance. Mary Baker Eddy has an aura of power but not of selflessness, and seems out of place. One wonders, in any case, what the book is for; the vignettes do not try to support a thesis. Some descend to the level of ""1066 and All That""--""'Give me a victory and I will be baptized'; Jesus Christ obliged."" Other pieces--on Elizabeth Seton, Heloise (and Abelard, Dorothy Day--are compelling examples of the awful rowing towards God. Perhaps this justifies the book, but nothing distinctive is demonstrated about a woman's way to God.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's