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The scent of God : a memoir
Bissell, Beryl Singleton.
Adult Nonfiction BX4705.B5237 A3 2006

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In 1957, 18-year-old Bissell entered the monastery of the cloistered order of the Poor Clares in New Jersey. At 33, after falling in love with a priest, she left. The memoir details Bissell's lifelong love affair with God and decade-long love affair with an Italian priest, Vittoria Bosca. The two wed once Bosca received a dispensation from Rome to leave the priesthood and had two children before he, 25 years her senior, died of cancer three years after their marriage. Bissell's intense desire to become a saint drew her to cloistered life, where the constraints of pre-Vatican II monasticism created a spiritual existence comprising prayer, work and self-mortification. Her forbidden attraction to Bosca resulted in several years of smoldering but unconsummated passion (despite lots of lusty kissing). He believed they could maintain a loving but chaste relationship as priest and nun; Bissell wanted more. She was shocked to find the Church willing to excuse their sexual relationship, yet disapproving of their marrying. Her memoir details monastic life, the lure of the protective cloister, the spiritual havoc wrought by Vatican II and the conflicts many Catholics have with tenets of their faith. This is a deeply moving tale of a woman torn between her love for God and her love for one of his emissaries. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

One-time cloistered nun Bissell's first book is a memoir detailing her determination to become a Poor Clare nun, her falling in love with a priest, and her subsequent decision to leave the monastery and get married. The book also addresses Bissell's feelings about her father's alcoholism and eventual stroke, her parents' turbulent marriage, and her brother's less-than-moral mischief (of which her descriptions offer the only comic relief during an otherwise deeply serious time). Most interestingly, though, Bissell examines her own struggles, trials, defeats, and triumphs, giving readers a glimpse into the personal life of a nun. She is honest and open about an array of emotions, including anger, frustration, disappointment, love, and even eros. It is rare to read a memoir that isn't at least occasionally self-aggrandizing and narcissistic, but this one is never so. Instead, Bissell's humility and blatant honesty are refreshing, invigorating, and inspirational. Recommended for all libraries.--Wesley A. Mills, Empire State Coll., Rochester, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

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