June Books 6) Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, by Kathryn Harrison
I really didn't know much about St Thérèse of Lisieux, other than that her relics have been the centre of much religious enthusiasm in the various countries to which they have been brought. After reading this book, I don't feel that I know much more than I did. She was one of eight children, the youngest of four surviving sisters, who all became nuns in the same convent (Thérèse having personally petitioned the Pope to be allowed to join at the age of fifteen); she basically dedicated herself to a consuming, borderline erotic vision of union with Christ, and expired of tuberculosis at the age of 24 in 1897. Despite having grown up in the Irish Catholic tradition myself, I found a lot of the story pretty repellent, and if I'd been Thérèse's spiritual director I fear I would have instructed her rather firmly to get a grip. Having said that, I think her intense devotion to her personal conception of Christ is an extrapolation of the extreme loyalties I sometimes see expressed in media fandom communities. Perhaps I should get hold of her Story of a Soul but I am not really inclined to after reading this.