The Bishop's Daughterby Honor Moore
Paul Moore’s vocation as an Episcopal priest took him with his wife, Jenny, and their family of nine childrenfrom robber-baron wealth to work among the urban poor, leadership in the civil rights and peace movements, and two decades as
“An eloquent argument for speaking even the most difficult truths.” New York Times Book Review
Paul Moore’s vocation as an Episcopal priest took him with his wife, Jenny, and their family of nine childrenfrom robber-baron wealth to work among the urban poor, leadership in the civil rights and peace movements, and two decades as the bishop of New York. The Bishop’s Daughter is his daughter’s story of that complex, visionary man: a chronicle of her turbulent relationship with a father who struggled privately with his sexuality while she openly explored hers and a searching account of the consequences of sexual secrets.
Having told the sad, extraordinary story of her maternal grandmother, the painter Margarett Sargent, in The White Blackbird (1996), Moore offers a painfully honest memoir of her father, Paul Moore (1919-2003), the Episcopal bishop of the diocese of New York from 1972 to 1989. Educated at St. Paul's and Yale, Paul distinguished himself in battle as a marine on Guadalcanal during WWII; fathered nine children by his first wife, the vivacious Jenny McKean; and became an activist in the liberal social movements of the 1950s and '60s. He also had numerous clandestine affairs with men. While Paul's bisexuality did little harm to his professional career, it took a heavy emotional toll on his family, notably Jenny, who up to her death from cancer at age 51 confided to only a few intimates the underlying cause of the unhappiness in her marriage. The author, a poet and playwright, draws on letters between her parents, the reminiscences of friends (including a male lover of her father's) and her own experiences as her parents' oldest child coming of age in the '60s to create an indelible portrait of a charismatic religious leader who could be insensitive or even cruel to those who loved him most. At the dramatic heart of this engrossing family chronicle is the ultimately triumphant struggle of the daughter, who suffered her own sexual confusion and years of therapy, to reconstruct her father's personal history in an effort to understand his behavior and thereby forgive. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Poet Moore's (writing, New Sch. & Columbia Univ.) 1996 memoir White Blackbird focused on her painter grandmother, Margarett Sargent. This one probes her relationship with her father, Episcopal Bishop Paul Moore (1919-2003). Often controversial, Bishop Moore embraced social causes such as poverty, racism, and gay rights and ministered in dioceses of Jersey City, Indianapolis, Washington, DC, and New York. In these 22 chapters, each preceded by a black-and-white family photo, the author struggles to come to terms with her relationship with her parents as well as with her bisexuality and that of her father. Skillfully interweaving contemporary news into the text, she crafts her memories and narrative from family correspondence and diaries, personal conversations, family scrapbooks, and her parents' own published writing. Religious elements appear as stage settings, which make the book more of a literary execution than a deep probing of her father's faith. Of selective interest for literary and biography collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08.]
Anna M. Donnelly
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Meet the Author
Honor Moore is a poet and the author of The Bishop’s Daughter. She lives in New York City and teaches at the New School and Columbia University.
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I read this book because Honor and I were classmates, graduating from Shortridge in 1963. One of my best friends was Gwen Solomon, the first African-American Junior Prom Queen. From the outside, Honor seemed to have had a perfect life - the book laid out the truths, as she knows them to be. It is a true testament, to the rest of us, that having it all is not what is important. Being able to trace your lineage,having trust funds or connections means crap if you don't know the truths surrounding you. Each chapter brought a dropped jaw and teary eyes. I applaude her bravery and for re-telling her father's story and giving voice to her mother's side.
i had the privilege of reading an advance copy of this book. i think it's pulitzer prize winning material. a really important american story--complex, grand, dramatic, enthralling, moving. i mean, money, sex, god, and glamour--who could ask for anything more? honor moore is, of course, a marvelous writer--and this is eye-popping material. a must read.
This is an unusual peek behind the Rectory door.