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Confessions of a Pagan Nun, by Kate Horsley

Reviewed by Elizabeth

Confessions of a Pagan Nun is a brief but stunning historical novel set in the sixth century, in which a woman named Gwynneve, a nun at the convent of St. Brigit at Kildare, recounts the story of her life. This is not a book about a saint, a heroine, or a remarkable historical figure, but an ordinary person whose story invites us to think deeply on the meaning and power of words and the real value of love and compassion in our own lives.

Though the novel is more poetic than gritty in style, Horsley brings the setting very much to life. Gwynneve’s tale vividly recounts the decline of the druids and the growing influence of the “tonsured men” in Ireland, as the teachings of heretical groups like the gentle Pelegasians are eradicated in favor of more severe Christian beliefs. However compelling, this stark backdrop of history plays second fiddle to Gwynneve’s interior journey, which fascinates because of its essential familiarity to every mystic, monastic, and seeker, no matter what time or place we live in.

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