In her first work of nonfiction, Rice (Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, 2008, etc.) tells the story of her departure from, and return to, her Creator.
This spiritual autobiography focuses on the author’s youth in New Orleans and her reconciliation with Catholicism during the past decade. Growing up in the Crescent City during the ’40s and ’50s, Rice was surrounded by an entirely Catholic world in which she reveled. Drawn to church history, the lives of the saints and the beauty of the liturgy, she maintained an unquestioning faith and a deep desire to live a heroic life for God. Late in her teenage years, after her mother’s death from alcoholism, Rice moved with her father and sister to Dallas. The change in lifestyle was so complete, she remarks, that “we might as well have been entering America for the first time.” It wouldn’t be long before she began questioning everything she once believed, and by the time she graduated from college she was an atheist. That change, she now realizes, was prompted by her distaste for the rigid, restrictive Catholicism of the time (circa 1960): “I could not separate my personal relationship with God, and with Jesus Christ, from my relationship with the church.” After several years of bohemian existence in San Francisco, Rice hit it big in the literary world with her fiction about Lestat and his fellow vampires. Throughout the nearly four decades of her atheism, however, she longed for her lost faith. Collecting sculptures of saints and visiting holy sites across the world, she struggled with her desire to believe. Finally, in 1998, she reconciled herself to the Catholic Church and found that its character had altered greatly since her youth. In 2002, she made a further personal decision to commit her writing from then on to God.
Rice’s rather banal prose doesn’t do justice to the anguished content, but her story is honest and moving nonetheless.