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The Tulip and the Pope: A Nun's Story (Vintage) [Paperback]

By Deborah Larsen (Author)
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Item description for The Tulip and the Pope: A Nun's Story (Vintage) by Deborah Larsen...

The story of novelist and poet Deborah Larsen's young womanhood, The Tulip and the Pope is both an exquisitely crafted spiritual memoir and a beautifully nuanced view of life in the convent.
In midsummer of 1960, nineteen-year-old Deborah shares a cab to a convent. She and the teenage girls with her, passionate to become nuns, heedless of all they are leaving behind, smoke their last cigarettes before entering their new lives. In the same artful prose that distinguished her novel The White, Larsen's memoir lets us into the hushed life of the convent. She captures the exquisite peace she found there, as well as the extreme constriction of the rules and her gradual awareness of all that she is missing. Eventually the physical world--the lush tulip she remembers seeing as a girl, the snow she tunneled in, and even the mystery of sex--begins to seem to her an alternative theater for a deep understanding and love of God.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Vintage
Pages   265
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.06" Width: 5.28" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 12, 2006
Publisher   Vintage
ISBN  0375712909  
ISBN13  9780375712906  

Availability  0 units.

More About Deborah Larsen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Deborah Larsen grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and currently lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She teaches writing at Gettyburg College, where she holds the Merle S. Boyer Chair. She is the author of The White, a novel based on the life of Mary Jemison, and a collection of poetry, Stitching Porcelain. Her poems and short stories have appeared in The Nation, The Yale Review, and The New Yorker, among other publications.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Memoirs
4Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > Women

Reviews - What do customers think about The Tulip and the Pope: A Nun's Story (Vintage)?

Serious, but also dryly droll ...  May 20, 2008
When 19 yr-old Mary Deborah Maertz entered the convent in Dubuque, Iowa, in the early sixties it was with every intention of staying. But the best-laid plans and all that. Times changed, the Church changed, but most of all, she changed. After five years - in Dubuque and Chicago - Sister Mary Deborah left the convent, emerging into a radically changed world, once again just Deborah Maertz, older and wiser. But this is an intimate and detailed look back at those days of habits, daily prayers and rigid rituals, and what she thought then - and thinks now - about those times. I spent a year in a minor seminary once at the end of the fifties, when I was only fourteen, so maybe I could relate to Larsen's THE TULIP AND THE POPE better than some. The most unexpected aspect of Larsen's memoir was the dry wit and humor which kept cropping up on nearly every page. I chuckled through much of the book. Here's a small sample in which Larsen briefly outlines some of the convent's rules of pesonal conduct and comportment, as listed in a printed handout to the postulants -

"Avoid throat clearing, scratching, cleaning out the ears, picking the face or teeth, spitting and similar unpleasant acts in public. All those gross acts named in one patch of prose on a convent handout struck me as funny. The handout may as well have read, 'This is not a zoo, girls.' ..."

And there's plenty more of this kind of stuff. Of course there is all the expected serious stuff too, about how Larsen came to gradually question her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as the months and years wore on. Make no mistake, Deborah Larsen is a gifted writer who knows how to keep her story moving. I read this book in just a couple of sittings. If you are a Catholic, an ex-Catholic, an anti-Catholic or a "recovering Catholic," you will relate to Larsen's story. An excellent memoir. - Tim Bazzett, author of Reed City Boy
Interesting, Excellent Memoir. Highly Recommended  Sep 21, 2007
Rarely do I read a book as quickly as I tore through this one. It took me four bedtime readings to read this book, which is extremely rare for me. Since, as a child and early teen, I longed to be a nun myself, I found this book to be compelling and intensely interesting. I spent many years amongst the cloistered nuns (what an honor!) at the Benedictine convent near my childhood home, and I yearned to become one of them myself. By the time I was old enough to consent, I had found my commitment to God outside of this arena. Besides, I wasn't even Catholic! But I digress. This book gives a very personal glimpse inside the convent of cloistered nuns in the early `60's - a turbulent time within society and within the Church. I was very glad that there was an epilogue that told of her life forty years later, and how she lives her life now.

I found the writing to be lacking at times - she writes as she probably speaks, and sometimes I can't follow her though process. However, this is a book NOT to be missed, regardless of your religious orientation.
The Pope and the Tulip  Aug 3, 2007
This was an autobiographical story of a former Sister which brought back memories of my early life as a Sister. I was sorry to read that the author left her community because it seemed as though she had great potential.

aAyone who wants a "bird'eye" view of convent life will enjoy this work
The Tulip and the Pope  Jun 28, 2007
My wife ordered this book and loves it. The book seems to cover the subject well.
The Tulip and the Pope  Mar 19, 2007
The book is a good read, a smooth and lovely read. It is the product of the perfect nun. Deborah Larsen disappoints in the sense that she does not reveal any emotional reaction to her life. She does a service by making it plain why convents are not getting recruits these days. As beautiful as the prose is it can not hide the emptiness of the life.
But I hope it encourages many more ex nuns to write and publish because we have not yet gotten a true glimpse into this life.


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