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It is particularly fitting that this important biography of the renowned English spiritual writer Caryll Houselander (Read of God, Rocking Horse Catholic, Passion Of The Infant Christ) should come from the facile pen of Maisie Ward who knew and loved her. (Miss Ward, the wife of publisher Frank Sheed, is a prolific author whose definitive works on Chestertion and Newman are noteworthy). In Caryll Houselander Miss Ward paints a vivid portrait of the woman whose own books contained a message that can be summarized in a single sentence -- ""We must learn to see Christ in everyone"". The author makes it clear that she is not writing about the ""imaginary Caryll Houselander built entirely of sweetness and light enthroned in many hearts"", but about a woman who saw her own shortcomings, sins, and insufficiencies with even more piercing clarity than those of others -- a woman who was not by nature patient, kind and gentle, but was described by a famed London psychiatrist as ""the divine eccentric"". In this admirable biography Miss Ward traces Caryll Houselander's life which ""almost from infancy was alive with beauty"", through her parents' separation which was devastatingly cruel for her, convent schooling, the first World War, life as an artist, writer, Nurses' Aide in World War 2, work with neurotic children, teacher and friend to the hundreds of people who flocked to her for guidance. She writes dispassionately, and lets quotations from Caryll Houselander's own works bring her vividly to life. She is convinced that Caryll had extra sensory perception, and that she experienced ""mental visions"" which brought her an increasingly widening realization of Christ's indwelling in man -- the doctrine of His Mystical Holy still being built out of men and women. This is indeed a superior study of a remarkable woman who always attacked the unreality in life and in religion of those people who worship Christ in Church but refuse to see him in mankind. Readers discovering Caryll Houselander here for the first time will create a new demand for her books in order to get to know her better.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1962
Publisher: Sheed and Ward