MARY BAKER EDDY: The Years of Authority by Robert Peel
Kirkus Star

MARY BAKER EDDY: The Years of Authority

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This third and final volume in Peel's definitive biography of the founder of Christian Science covers the period from 1892 to her death in 1910 at age 90. Like the preceding volumes--The Years of Discovery (1966) and The Years of Trial (1971)--this is a meticulous and (despite Peel's unconcealed sympathy for his subject) admirably judicious account. That in itself is a difficult achievement, for in her later years Mrs. Eddy was beset by conflict on all sides: she broke with her adopted son and with the woman pupil who aimed at succession; she was sued by a disaffected student and by her own son; she and her newfangled religion were continually denounced by writers from yellow journalists to Mark Twain (who called her ""that shameless old swindler""); and despite her vigorous denials, she was repeatedly reported mortally sick, mentally incompetent, or dead. Meanwhile she built the Mother Church, revised Science and Health, founded several publications including (in her 88th year) the Christian Science Monitor, and--exploring the relationship between authority and democracy--invented a new institutional structure so that her church could flourish here and abroad when her own charismatic leadership was gone. Peel's masterful interweaving of religious thought and mundane concerns makes gripping the life of this difficult, demanding, brilliant, and kindly woman.

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 1977
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston