Reviews - What do customers think about Therese of Lisieux?
Disappointingly reductionist Feb 28, 2007
This book reduces most of Therese's life to neurotic personality traits and oppressive family and social systems. The author has relentless pyschological theorizing and heavy-handed commentaries on every page.
Though feminism and social psychology have much to offer, this book is barely sympathetic to the spiritual life per se and shows almost no understanding of the movements of faith in a person's life. Reading this, one could never imagine how the saint's life could have inspired millions.
Appalling Nov 12, 2003
I found this author's twisted "re-evaluation" absolutely sickening. Monica Furlong apparently believes Therese became a nun to avoid "uncontrolled childbearing", though she offers nothing to back up this assumption. Though she originally admits Therese's tuberculosis was incurable, she still manages to blame the convent for her death. She has absolutely no appreciation of Catholic spirituality, and lacking this cannot begin to comprehend the life of a great saint. She apparently feels Therese of Lisieux would have been better off living like a character in "Sex and the City". An excellent example of how spiritually impoverished modern feminism really is.
a worthwhile re-examination... Jun 16, 2003
I am a big fan of Therese Martin, and I've read a number of her biographies, as well as her autobiography, though I don't know if I've read the original. Why? Because her writings were heavily edited by her sisters, as her photographs were retouched. Ms. Furlong's biography avoids many of these pitfalls. I found her approach refreshing. She describes the pietism of Therese's family, the unhealthy conditions in her convent,the personalities of her sisters and fellow nuns, the abusive observance of the Carmelite rule, her irrational mother superior, and the opportunistic way her biological sisters helped engineer her early recognition as a saint. All of this does not detract from Therese's psychological maturity and contributions to modern Catholic thought. So much about her life is known through letters and memoirs, as well as the testimonies at her canonization. It would be a good thing if a modern first-class biographer were to get access to all of these materials in order to write a modern biography of Therese, her life and times. Penguin is publishing a new biography of Therese this year, which may be just the thing.
Au contraire mes amies! Oct 18, 2002
I found this book to be a refreshing change from the sentimental glop usually found in biographies of St. Therese. I was glad that Ms. Furlong interpreted Therese's life in light of contemporary psychology. For instance, Therese's severe childhood illness almost certainly had its roots in the fact that she had yet again lost a mother figure when her older sister entered the convent. (She had previously lost two mother figures.)
The fact that Therese showed such maturity, strength of character and a will of iron during her brief adult life, despite her sad childhood is testament to her courage.
Reprinting this book was a mistake. Read a different one. Aug 24, 2002
This book is not worth reading. It is poorly researched; it contains at least one fictionalized chapter in which the author writes as if she knew what was happening in Therese's mind; we learn much more about the author's attitudes than about Therese.
To give an example of missing research: the author describes the day on which Therese received the habit and claims that her hair was cut on that day. The critical edition of Therese's work specifies that it was the custom to cut a novice's hair a few months after she received the habit, and that the cutting of Therese's hair was postponed still further due to her youth. Although this detail is not central, one questions whether other important research is missing.
Since the critical edition of the writings of St. Therese began to appear in 1973, several authors have produced fine works in English examining her life and writings according to the evidence. This book is not one of them.
The first edition was remaindered at a very low price, and several experts on Theresian spirituality expressed their disappointment with this book. I was surprised and disappointed to see that Orbis, which has produced so many excellent books, decided to reprint this one.