How Many 'Nun's Stories' is Too Many?


While there is a universal hunger and curiosity about life in a convent and the search for authentic spirituality, there are surprisingly few books written about the intersection of the two. The earliest and most well-known memoir, The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness, came from author and commentator Karen Armstrong, published in 2005.

In 2009, Gerelyn Hollingsworth published Convent: A Novel, described by one critic as a “thinly disguised memoir.” In 2010 Cheryl L. Reed published Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns.  During the last two years, four other memoirs have emerged: The Green That Never Died: A Convent Memoir of the 50's and 60's –  2015, by Rose Gordy;  Called - The Making & Unmaking of a Nun – 2016,  by Marge Rogers Barrett; The Shortest Skirt – 2017, by Sally J. Jardine; and A Nun’s Story – 2017, by Sister Agatha.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but given the thousands of people who experienced this life, it is clear that the time has come for PERFECTION.

The critical praise for the recently released movie, NOTITIATE, written and directed by Maggie Betts, indicates the interest in this subject. But despite its glowing reviews, the movie only lasted two weeks locally – and was shown only in Cincinnati’s “art theater.” The Washington Post’s critic described it this way: “Novitiate” is less about losing religion than it is about finding oneself. The same has been said about my novel, PERFECTION.

What’s different about PERFECTION? It is not a “thinly disguised memoir,” though I know my subject matter well. It’s not a tell-all expose, nor is it a vendetta against the Church, the convent, or any individuals.

Perhaps the reviewer below said it best:

“For those who grew up Catholic during that tectonic shift in the Church following the changes wrought by Vatican II – particularly for those who felt the allure of religious life – PERFECTION is a refreshing book, reflecting the questions that dog those on a path to personal faithfulness.

For everyone else, PERFECTION is simply a tender love story – not just between a man and a woman, but within a family, among friends, and most importantly, between our authentic selves and that Divine Mystery most simply called God – that Mystery endlessly calling us home to the full embrace of love itself. Read this book, but be forewarned: Its engaging prose will make it hard to put down.”

~ Barbara Lyghtel Rohrer, author & consultant