CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE by Elizabeth Charlotte Webster


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A first novel, which will also be a last, as the author died shortly after receiving a South African literary award on its publication. And here, in what is a rather unusual book, there is both stylistic merit and spiritual content- an awareness which is occasionally, satirically levelled against the worldlier, prideful standards of church and clergy. This is the story of Sybil, the novice who comes to join an Anglican convent at Geldersburg and who is possessed not only of a deep faith but also of powers to heal the sick, to know the future. Confounded by her cure of a woman with St. Vitus, the nuns are further dismayed when Sybil says that she is pregnant. Refusing to disclose the paternity of the child for whom she claims exceptional gifts, Sybil leaves after a denunciation of the hypocrisy and insincerity of those who condemn her- and at the birth of the child, three come to worship... For the market- if not as extensively- of The Song of Bernadette, the sensitivity, the clarity of the prose recommend this.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace