SISTER CLARE by Loretta Burrough


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This brief, simple and one-dimensional novel relates the story of a young woman's life as a cloistered Carmelite nun. If this same book had been written in a more eloquent manner it would be not only dull but insufferably pretentious. The one virtue then -- if it can be called that -- of this novel is its artlessness. Which is almost the same thing as saying that the novel is bad but not as bad as it could be. The beginning of the story is familiar: A young girl, 16 year old Jean, enters the Decalced Carmelite against the wishes of her parents who are convinced that she is throwing her life away. Jean is overawed by the solemnity of the monastery and by the seemingly faultless deportment of the nuns but her determination to be a Carmelite remains unswayed. She endures trials during her time as a postulant and novice -- which are traced to her fault of pride, but she is finally professed and takes the name of Sister Clare of the Divine Wisdom. Sixteen years later Sister Clare is made novice-mistress but she loses her post -- again due to pride. So the story ends when Sister Clare, who at 48, had been a nun for 32 years, has recently been elected Prioress of her convent. Finally, it seems as though the book is more closely related to a highly annotated case history than to a novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 1959
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin