The spread of devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux is one of the impressive religious manifestations of our time. During her few years on earth this young French Carmelite was scarcely to be distinguished from many another devoted nun, but her death brought an almost immediate awareness of her unique gifts. Through her letters, and especially through the publication of "The Little Flower" she soon came to mean a great deal to numberless people. Within twenty-eight years after death, this simple young nun had been canonized; and in 1944, the pope declared her the secondary patroness of France. Born to a devout Catholic bourgeois family, Therese and her four surviving sisters all became nuns. Therese had long assumed she would die young and looked forward to it as her reunion with God and her lost loved ones. When her health began to fail in 1894 (she was 20 years old and the tuberculosis that was diagnosed would end her life aged 24) she suffered her first pulmonary haemorrage on a Good Friday and rejoiced in the fact that God had announced her imminent death to her on the anniversary of his own crucifixion. nHer sainthood and the continuing attraction of her life and belief stems from self-sacrifice.
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher and industry reviews
'Harrison's psychological analysis is compelling. She locates many of Therese's ideas in the early death or her mother and the mental illness of her father...Harrison's account of the saint's childhood is well written, sympathetic and horrifying...[a] beautifully crafted book.' -- Damien Thompson LITERARY REVIEW (November) 'Kathryn Harrison has written a biography which is neither hagiography nor hatchet-job. In her reading St Therese is a damaged soul, but almost because of that, a truly great one.' -- Caroline Moore SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (9.11.03) '...fascinating...the writing is powerful and will cause reflection.' -- Talitha Stevenson OBSERVER (30.11.03) 'Harrison knows her stuff and writes so well that the reader soaks it up.' -- Christopher Howse TELEGRAPH (29.11.03) 'Harrison offers a critical perspective of Therese, but whether praising or blaming, her style is always luxuriously poetic. Written with a passion that pervades the prose, this is a grippingly good read.' -- Anita Sethi CITY LIFE (Manchester, 19.11.03) 'insightful.' -- Bess Twiston Davies CATHOLIC HERALD (5.12.03) 'The account Harrison gives of the little nun's heroic and uncomplaining final journey cannoy fail to touch the heart.' THE UNIVERSE (7.12.03) 'The excellence of Kathryn Harrison's short book is that it is an honest and rigorous account.' -- Roz Kaveney TIME OUT (17.12.03) 'This is no holy, holy book. It's different from anything you've ever read before about the little French nun who became a Doctor of the Church. She would have loved it.' IRISH NEWS (Belfast, 19.12.03) '[an] utterly fascinating read.' GOOD BOOK GUIDE (1.1.04) 'Kathryn Harrison's thoughtful, succinct and elegant study...helps us make new sense of Therese by stressing how her life was a story first of all told by her parents about their imagined object, and then with herself as dynamic subject.' -- Michele Roberts NEW STATESMAN (12.1.04) 'a comprehensive version of the saint's life...well-written account in a handy size.' -- Tom Horwood CATHOLIC TIMES (18.1.04) 'There is so much to say...that a new biography...has plenty of interest for devotees..Kathryn Harrison gives us a tougher portrait than most, stressing the courage, originality and heroism of her subject.' -- Isabel Quigly TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (6.2.04) 'To my mind, and from the point of view of non-specialised readers, this is the most interesting biography since Virginia Sackville West's 'The Eage and the Dove', first published in 1943.' NOTTINGHAM EVENING POST (3.4.04) 'Kathryn Harrison's Saint Therese of Lisieux offers a biographical map that traces the life of Therese and her spiritual journey.' -- Martin Warner CHURCH TIMES (14.5.04)
UK Kirkus review
Saints are, by definition, extraordinary people. Perhaps that's partly why it's so hard to identify with the 'quaint and awkward and solemn' child who became Saint Therese of Lisieux. Kathryn Harrison is a thoughtful and sympathetic guide to Therese Martin's progress from her devout, late nineteenth century French provincial bourgeois home to her entry into the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of fifteen and her death from tuberculosis aged only twenty-four. Harrison pays scrupulous attention to the effect the early death of her mother and the entry into a convent of her two adored older sisters had on Therese's spiritual journey. And she is alert to the paradoxes and limitations of a personality so focused on preparing for Heaven that even on her deathbed Therese worries that her enjoyment of the scent of violets may be a sin. The extremes of sainthood make for uncomfortable reading. Saint Therese of Lisieux is a title in the Weidenfeld and Nicolson Lives series, which includes biographies of famous women and men from Dante to Elvis Presley. (Kirkus UK)
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