„In This Small Spot” by Caren J. Werlinger is not a lesbian romance story, even though it involves two romances between women, it actually is a lesbian fiction drama with religious inflexions that will turn your world upside down and only to prove that in life we have many chances to be wonderful people and to love more than just once in a lifetime, but also to make the wrong choices and suffer their consequences.
Caren J. Werlinger and Elena Graf have all these things in common: women loving women, flawed characters, religion, books that are not romances. That is why I like them both and I appreciate their existence in lesbian fiction.
„In This Small Spot” by Caren J. Werlinger is a heart opening story and there are more than just one wistful characters set in the center of the whole spiritual universe of a convent for nuns.
I liked the fact that the story that happens now and the main character’s chance to fulfill her vocation to become a nun and the chance to a new love is entwined with glimpses of the her past and these flashbacks tell the step by step story of her past and the love she has lost. The stories go hand in hand and only at the end of the book, the reader finds disclosure in both cases. This is a very original way to see someone’s life story. I love that about Caren J. Werlinger’s writing style, she is a very gifted writer, but also a thinker, because she writes pretty serious and complex characters, intelligent women with deep thinking and difficult stories.
The writing is wonderful and the one of a kind characters do make the story even more exquisite, because they have all these doubts, all these questions about the life in a convent and the one outside it, also they question God’s acceptance to their loves and then there are good/bad choices to make.
I finished the book at 3 a.m. in the morning, I couldn’t put it down. Mickey’s story was breathtaking, mesmerizing and dramatic, even tragic at some points.
Michele „Mickey” Stewart was a successful surgeon until tragedy struck her life and she returned to her first calling: being a nun in a convent. She first felt the calling to become a nun at eighteen years old, but she didn’t listen to it and she chose to go to college instead. She became a surgeon and had a wonderful life with Alice, until tragedy struck their lives and Mickey couldn’t understand what happened to her and couldn’t live the life she had and one day she got lost on a walk from her brother’s house and found St. Bridget’s Abbey in New York State and talked to Mother Theodora.
Mickey is in an emotional turmoil and buried herself into her work to help patients. But, she has her first case of malpractice and she is really torn, as she feels she can’t really help the patients enough by doing her job as a surgeon and that perhaps, she could do a better job by praying for them and this way help them spiritually. This is one of the reasons she enters St. Bridget’s Abbey as a postulant at thirty eight years old.
Here her whole universe changes, even though she knew a glimpse of it at her first try to enter a convent, but she had other convictions now and is a different woman now.
The monastic life is not for everyone, yet Mother Theodora and all the sisters seem to have created a modern monastic lifestyle which helped Mickey to find her way and reconcile faith with being gay.
She found in Mother Theodora a life changing human being and a wonderful discussion partner. Also, the other nuns/sisters were special human beings and amazing women: sister Lucille, sister Rosaria, sister Fiona, sister Ignatius, sister Stephen, sister Renatta, sister Regina, sister Anselma, sister Teresa, sister Helen, sister Mary David, sister Margaret, sister Ignatius, sister Cecilia, sister Linus and father Andrew who was the assigned priest of the convent. They have a procedural life and live it with a smile on their faces (most of the time), being happy to serve God. They understood the sacrifices it takes to live the monastic life and they try to give a good example to all the novices.
There are many life changing events in both stories having Mickey in the center of them. After all she lived through, Mickey has a new purpose in life and I liked how the sisters helped her to overcome her unresolved emotional issues that she suppressed easily when she used to be a surgeon.
The author touches all the points of what it means to give up an active, rich life outside the convent and to accept the contemplative monastic lifestyle, following the daily rituals, the prayers, the retreats and when a full nun, you have to give up all your earthly belongings.
Mickey went through all this and even more, the grief, the drama and the tragedy she went through with Alice were hard to read about, but it made her more complex and flawed.
Mother Theodora and sister Anselma were absolutely stunning characters in the monastic atmosphere and outside of it.
I learned so much about monastic life from this book and also, the characters showed how humane and flawed the sisters sometimes are. And all the sacrifices and the hard choices they have to make to fulfill their destinies.
I am looking forward to read Mother Theodora’s story in „An Unlit Candle” the author released in 2021.
„In This Small Spot” was written in 2001 and released in 2013.
I recommend this book a great time, especially for readers who like lesbian fiction dramas with religious inflexions and intelligent women who love women.
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