4 out of 4 stars
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Gretchen Grossman had an amazing life, starting with a religious education, and then joining a convent after school, after leaving the convent she got married. Gretchen lays out her whole life, leaving nothing out in Ring Around the Rosary: The Memoir of a Girl, A Nun A Wife, and A Mother, her autobiography.
Gretchen’s family was Catholic, going to church every Sunday. When she was old enough she went to a Catholic school where they started to indoctrinate her with the belief that to avoid mortal sin, hence avoiding going to hell after death, the best course of action was to join a convent and become a nun. She had a desire to fit in and make others like her, so whenever the Monsignor came into class and asked who wanted to become a nun? Gretchen always raised her hand.
At the age of 12, the school tried to transfer her to a convent to continue her studies. Her parents objected and she was prevented from joining then. However, the Monsignor remembered that she said she wanted to go. When the time came for her to leave school and go to college, he arranged for her to chaperone some kids to local convent. While there the Mother Superior used every bit of psychological pressure she could bring to bear to convince her that she should become a nun.
Gretchen enrolled at the convent, and once she was within their walls the real brainwashing started. She describes her time in the convent learning to become a nun, and her first and only term as a nun. She describes how it all made her feel, and the way she was treated when she professed a desire to leave. When the time came for her to renew her vows, she screwed up all her courage and said no. Finally she managed to escape the convent.
After leaving the convent, Gretchen tells how she was not as socially adept as her friends from school appeared to be. In trying to find her way, she finally meets a young gentleman who thinks she is great. This leads to her getting married to Coleman, even though some of her friends and even her doctor said she shouldn’t.
Coleman is an exciting and vivacious young man who shows Gretchen the world, but he seems to lack an intimate side. Gretchen describes how she felt during her marriage, and how she thought that having some children would help. Did this really help? You’ll have to read it to find out.
I really liked Gretchen’s honesty in this book. She really lays everything out for everybody to see. I found her description of how the convent treated the nuns in training to very revealing. I also found her descriptions during her married life to bring tears to my eyes. No-one should be treated that way; I think Gretchen’s very strong to not only have survived it all, but to have prospered too.
Gretchen has a smooth writing style and the book flows nicely depicting what happened to her throughout her life. It is written in the first person and in the past tense the whole way through. She is very direct, telling of all the things that happened to her, though she is light on detail in a few places.
The book appears to be very well proof-read with very few mistakes, most of which didn’t disturb the flow of the book. There was however, one sentence that didn’t end, and the next paragraph didn’t follow directly on. As if part of the book was missing. Despite this omission I feel that this book deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I think that anybody thinking of joining either a convent or a seminary should read this book before they decide. I also think that anyone who likes autobiographies of strong women would like this
Ring Around The Rosary
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