THREE NUNS: An Intimate Story by Sara Harris

THREE NUNS: An Intimate Story

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More about The Sisters (1971), three nuns who took their cue from Vatican II and tried life outside the convent but failed to spread their message of love to Chicago ghetto residents. Harris, a chance confidante, sees their plight as a case of vulnerability--true Christian impulses tackling the evils of modern society--but her book suffers from maudlin characterization and lack of perspective. Jean left her calling for Jed, a priest excommunicated for their alliance, impotent with her (a virgin after 18 months of marriage) but not with the church housekeeper. Ellen, who used her cross to masturbate, lived out her masochistic fantasies with a black militant who helped her along to suicide. Martin (sic), black, a former aristocrat, knew no racial discrimination until she entered the cloister; seemingly politicized by a Black Nuns' Caucus, she nevertheless left to live with two white nuns and brought her whip along. Of the three, she had the least troubled adjustment. Certainly the raw material for a penetrating psychological study is here: these three were unaccountably candid, confiding their emotional turmoil, revealing their sudden defenselessness. But Harris is only an observer, never an interpreter; she reproduces conversations and more intimate encounters but neglects their ramifications. Too bad--these stories deserve a more articulate, tasteful treatment.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1976
Publisher: McKay