PERSONAL HABITS by Shannon Lewis

PERSONAL HABITS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Teeming with shameful secrets, convent details, abortion, child-molesting, and incest: a plump, fast-rolling tale about two highly unlikely nun/friends. Poor, plain Imagene Tutt manages (thanks to her mother's legacy) to enter a wealthy Catholic convent school in Texas--where she's inexplicably befriended by the school's Most Popular girl: Penny Endicott, whose father Kellam is a Big Man in Texas and a fearsome fancier of nubile girls. (Penny suffers his rages and sadistic beatings.) And the girls stay pals through high school--until Penny, realizing in horror that she's pregnant by Mexican farm-worker Miguel, mysteriously disappears. Time passes. Imagene, orphaned and penniless, clinging to the only home she's ever known, enters a teaching order--and runs up against the gaunt, unbearably pious Sister lmmacnlata. . . who is really. . . Penny, ex-Golden Girl! (Imagene will eventually hear the tale of Penny's miscarriage, her mother's suicide, and a beating and rape by papa Kellam.) Eventually, then, while Sister Immaculata leads the admiring troops in piety, worldly Imagene, angering the Superior by Sixties public protests, leaves the sisterhood: re-naming herself Ivory Talbot, she drifts into a deadly marriage (her brutal husband is fortunately killed), then goes on to TV success in Manhattan--where beloved Sister Immaculata (who else?) nurses at a nearby Catholic hospital. So the two old chums are on a collision course once Ivory catches wind (from her sometime lover, Dr. Nathan Scott) of Sister Penny's most un-Catholic abortion practices. Penny attempts to libel Scott; Ivory fights back with blackmail, uncovering the true story of Penny and Kellam. And so it goes--with lively, implausible saintliness and sinning in an inventive pop-novel about monstrous men and moderately engaging women.

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 1982
Publisher: Doubleday