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Confessions of a Pagan Nun: A Novel

de Kate Horsley

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5521932,218 (3.75)58
Cloistered in a stone cell at the monastery of Saint Brigit, a sixth-century Irish nun secretly records the memories of her Pagan youth, interrupting her assigned task of transcribing Augustine and Patrick. She also writes of her fiercely independent mother, whose skill with healing plants and inner strength she inherited. She writes of her druid teacher, the brusque but magnetic Giannon, who first introduced her to the mysteries of written language. But disturbing events at the cloister keep intervening. As the monastery is rent by vague and fantastic accusations, Gwynneve's words become the one force that can save her from annihilation.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 19 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
A 6th-century Irish nun ponders her past and present. I enjoy the way the author presents a good picture of a changing society as Christianity clashes with traditional pagan beliefs in Ireland. I also like the Irish terms that are interspersed through the novel, giving a feeling of authenticity. I even marked a few things in the book that stuck with me, and I rarely do that in books. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Jul 13, 2020 |
Author Kate Horsley dresses up her novel as a codex found on an archeological dig in Ireland. It purports to be a first-person narrative of a woman trained as a druid in early 6th Century Ireland; it even includes a Translator’s Note explicating the scholarly treatment of the text. Horsley establishes this as a way of lending a present-day flavor to a long-ago text. It works really well, and at the same time the story manages to be a compelling text with human suffering, thwarted romance, power-mad clerics, and a deft treatment of how some true stories evolve into legends, embellished with magic.

Gwynneve, our wise and realistic narrator, tells her first-person story of passion, growth, and loss. This serves as a cross-section of the wrenching Irish conversion from the ancient Druidic faith to Christianity. In fact, the story by design straddles the exact period where the Christian faith takes strong root in the land, and succeeds in eradicating all traces of the old ways. But not in our Gwynneve!

This woman trains the full nine years required to become a druid, travels that path, and gains some renown. Her passion, which she discovers quite young, is for reading and writing; she burns to know what the long dead philosophers and seers and poets and clerics said and thought. This leads her to Giannon, a tall and rather unfeeling druid, from whom she finds she desires affection and partnership. He does not provide these in any gratifying amount, but he does teach her the druidic disciplines. Through a series of adventures and misadventures Gwynneve is admitted into a convent devoted to St. Brigit.

At this convent, Druid Gwynneve pursues her love of writing as a scribe, and sets the current manuscript to parchment. Before very long she runs afoul of the new Christian male hierarchy, is imprisoned and martyred. She thus personifies the dying of the old, nature-based beliefs prevalent in Ireland - she couches this often harsh transition in very human terms. In addition, there is a fine and lovely lilt to the writing, as befits something composed in English by an Irish wielder of words.

Straightforward, feeling, well-paced and lovely, there is much here to use your time well. It imagines its time and place thoroughly, much to the delight of the modern reader.

https://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2020/04/confessions-of-pagan-nun-by-kate-hor... ( )
  LukeS | Apr 17, 2020 |
Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley is a rather grim story set in the 6th century Ireland as Christianity is slowly overtaking the pagan religion. Gwynneve is serving as a nun and is cloistered in a stone cell at St. Bridgit’s convent. She should be transcribing sacred texts but instead she is secretly recording her life story of how she was raised as a pagan, trained as a druid and eventually “converted” to Christianity. This is a story of a hard life with constant struggles against the injustices of the time.

Well crafted and researched, the author writes about this time period with authority, yet she manages to infuse her words with a poetic feeling. While this is a grim story about a woman struggling in a difficult time, it is interesting and gives the reader a strong picture of the Celtic culture being overtaken and changed by Christianity. Not a long novel, but one that explores both the spirituality and philosophy of a country that is being changed by a new religion. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Aug 18, 2019 |
Gwynneve wants to be a Druid. She begins her training, including learning to read and write. Unfortunately, this is at the time Christianity has spread to Ireland. The old ways are in the process of being pounded out of the Irish people. This is her version of how St. Patrick's religion touched her life, and it is not a happy one. ( )
  a1stitcher | Jun 22, 2019 |
Confessions of a Pagan Nun - Kate Horsley
4 stars

As I understand it, the Druids left no written documents. If they had, if any one of them had, it might have looked like this small book. Or not. Whether or not it is historically accurate, Gwynneve has a compelling voice as she relates tells the story of her pagan childhood and her reluctant, ambiguous, conversion to Christianity.

It’s been a very long time since I read Confessions of St. Augustine, but the scribe, Sister Gwynneve, had read them. She is, to some extent, modeling her confessions on his work. Much more, Kate Horsley is drawing on her own Buddhist faith, which is surprisingly similar to pagan Druidism in this interpretation. I’m not criticizing, or even disagreeing with her depiction of early Christians in Ireland. Sister Gwynneve is a character placed in a time of major changes and her story is completely plausible. The Christians are not heroic characters. There is a certain agenda in this fictional memoir. Sister Gwynne is seduced by the promise of words, more stories, and the greater knowledge of the Christians. But, she is troubled by the fanaticism, the religious persecution, the sexual repression, and the oppression of women. It becomes a very depressing story.

There’s good food for thought in Sister Gwynneve’s rambling confession. I found myself wanting to highlight over and over again.

“It is noble to pity a man who is cruel because he is weak, but it is idiotic and dangerous to allow him to have power.”

“Power does not willingly give up its place to truth.”

“Teaching is a sacred art ……. The teacher, the bard, the singer of tales is a freer of men's minds and bodies, especially when he roams without allegiance to one chieftain or another. But he is also a danger to the masters if he insists upon telling the truth. The truth will inevitably cause tremors in those who cling to power without honoring justice.”

“I would live in a world of Christ-like humans, but not one full of Christians, may God forgive me.”
( )
  msjudy | Apr 1, 2017 |
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I, Gwynneve, a sinner quite uncultivated and the least of all the faithful and utterly despicable to many, appeal to Saint Brigit or the goddess Brigit, whatever it is her wish to be called.
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Cloistered in a stone cell at the monastery of Saint Brigit, a sixth-century Irish nun secretly records the memories of her Pagan youth, interrupting her assigned task of transcribing Augustine and Patrick. She also writes of her fiercely independent mother, whose skill with healing plants and inner strength she inherited. She writes of her druid teacher, the brusque but magnetic Giannon, who first introduced her to the mysteries of written language. But disturbing events at the cloister keep intervening. As the monastery is rent by vague and fantastic accusations, Gwynneve's words become the one force that can save her from annihilation.

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