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Adult Bookclub - May 

Tuesday, 8 May 2007


Our wonderful adult book club will be reviewing 'Dropping The Habit' by Marian Dante.

Maria Dickenson, Book Club Chair
Maria Dickenson has always been a keen book lover. She started out in the world of books as a librarian, but is now working for Easons where she is a buyer in head office. She is a committee member of the Bookseller's Association and the Society of Publishers in Ireland, and is a member of a bookclub herself.  Her favourite reads include Audrey Niffenegger's 'The Time Traveller's Wife', Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' and Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones'.

Reviewers: Members of Cashel Library Bookclub
Mary Eakins
Mary is married with 5 children and 6 grandchildren. She works part-time at the Bake house in Cashel. She joined the book club when it was started 2 years ago and she enjoys gruesome American thrillers, Irish autobiographies and she is a big fan of Gareth Fitzgerald's writing.
Anne Peters
Is married with 6 children and works as an engineer with the Co Council. The family live on a farm so she is a busy woman. Anne has been a member of the Book Club for a year. Anne is a fan of westerns, historic romances and biographies.
Beatrice Leahy
Beatrice is married with 4 grown up children and runs a successful B&B in Cashel. She plays bridge, is a member of a local choir and loves to travel when the B&B closes in the winter. She is a fan of 'escapism reads' which include fiction and autobiographies.
Kate Nagle
A retired barrister Kate is a widow with 4 grown up children and 8 grand children. She joined the book club 2 years ago but reading is just one of her favourite hobbies she also enjoys gardening and is a member of a bible class too. Kate loves the Tudor period, conservation and design. She doesn't enjoy fiction as she likes to have all the facts!

Book being reviewed today on the show:
Dropping the Habit -  Marion Dante
Given up to the church as a 'sin offering' from her mother at aged just fourteen, Marion Dante was never destined to live an ordinary life.  A troubled home life made the convent seem appealing to the young Marion, and she hid her ordinary teenage enthusiasms behind her religious aspirations.  But after taking her vows, her life began to crumble apart.  Convent life was strict and constraining, and she craved the closeness and comfort of ordinary friendships and relationships.  The discovery of her illegitimate conception - the real reason for her mother's insistence on her vocation - and the death of her beloved father shook her beliefs to the core.  In a fit of frustration and distress, she cut her habit to shreds.

Some friends and mentors among her convent sisters encouraged her to take time to contemplate her situation. She returned from England to her native Ireland to study, where she found comfort and welcome, and then returned to take a teaching position near to her order.  She was also permitted a period in a psychotherapy centre for people in religious life, which helped her for a while but left her vulnerable on her return to the world.  However much she craved her freedom, though, she lacked the courage to break away: convent life had robbed her of the means to function in ordinary society.  Unable to handle money, choose suitable clothes, or even converse with strangers, she clung to what she knew. 

Eventually she found the courage to make the break, and finally received that long awaited letter from Rome releasing her from her vows. Life still held trouble for Marion, though - she suffered breast cancer, alone and afraid.  Even on her recovery, she took refuge in an Italian monastery where a predatory priest took advantage of her.

Despite the troubles of Marion's life, the book does show real spirit, and she concludes with a vow to fight the Church on its attitude to sexuality, and to gain proper recognition for those who have struggled as she did with her vows.  She is reunited with her family, has a lively social life and is a keen fundraiser for cancer charities.

Reviews of the book:
Mary Eakins
Thought it was an incredibly sad story. She thought there was a lot of negativity in the book and a lot of that was directed at the church. She thought the story jumped a lot from time to time and all in all she didn't enjoy it.
Anne Peters
Anne wouldn't have picked it up from the shop if she was looking for a book. She felt the writer was a flawed character and from a writing perspective she felt that there was potential there that was honed in on. All in all she would only give it 5 out of 10.
Beatrice Leahy
Beatrice didn't enjoy the book and probably wouldn't have kept reading after the 1st chapter if it was for The Afternoon Show. She said it was a 'depressing read' and she found the main character 'very obscure'. She wasn't a fan of the writing style either but she says she will try and come up with a couple of positives points for the show.

For More Information
Book prices may vary from shop to shop.

This Months book 'Dropping The Habit' by Marion Dante was supplied by Borders Bookstore in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. Ph: 01-8235888

"Dropping The Habit" by Marion Dante (Poolbeg Press ltd ISBN: 1842232975)

Borders Price €14.99