Monday 17 October 2022

Changing Habits

Finished September 12
Changing Habits by Debbie Macomber

This novel follows three young women as they grow from girls into women and make a choice to become nuns. They all entered the same order in the late 1950s or early 1960s, and eventually their lives crossed. For a variety of reasons they took their vows, and around ten years later, in the early 1970s, they each separately left the convent to return to ordinary life. 
Angelina Marcello lost her mother at a young age, and as an only child spent a lot of time with her father at his restaurant. She also grew close to one of the teachers at her convent school, and questioned her closely about how she knew she wanted to be a nun. Angelina has a gift for tasting food and identifying the ingredients and knowing how to improve it. It is one her father takes pride in and he plans that she will become a partner to him in the restaurant one day. Her growing attraction to taking clerical orders is one he doesn't understand, and doesn't want for her, and their love for each other as the only family they have, but the different futures they want comes between them.
Kathleen O'Shaughnessy is the fifth of eight children, and has been aware that she is destined to be a nun for as long as she can remember. Her mother believed it when she was a very young child and Kathleen had no doubts that her mother was right. As the time to join the convent grows nearer, the family shows that they are proud that she is making this choice. It is only her oldest brother Sean who questions whether she really wants this and hasn't just gone along with what's been expected of her. 
Joanna Baird began nursing school soon after her boyfriend went to Vietnam, and promised to wait for him. She did, but found that he hadn't waiting for her, and her decision to renew her childhood dream of being a nun comes partly as a consolation for her loss. 
We see the three women enter the convent, and follow them as postulants and then as they take their final vows. The author gives a lot of insight into what life was like for these women at the time, and what they did at the convent and in the professions they took on once their vows were final. 
We also see the social upheaval that occured during the sixties and seventies and how these outside events and the actions of the church also had an effect on their eventual decisions to leave and return to a life as ordinary women. I found this novel very interesting and each of the women was well developed as a character. A fascinating read. 

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