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The Land of Spices

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Overview

Behind the high, closed walls of a convent in the Irish countryside, the lives of its inhabitants are gently marked by the daily rituals of spiritual life. Watching over Anna, her sensitive and poetic young charge, the Mother Superior revisits her childhood relationship with her father. As Anna develops from a six-year-old to a scholarship candidate, Helen comes to understand her own heart and makes peace with her past.

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Overview

Behind the high, closed walls of a convent in the Irish countryside, the lives of its inhabitants are gently marked by the daily rituals of spiritual life. Watching over Anna, her sensitive and poetic young charge, the Mother Superior revisits her childhood relationship with her father. As Anna develops from a six-year-old to a scholarship candidate, Helen comes to understand her own heart and makes peace with her past.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"O'Brien exquisitely evokes the harem atmosphere of convent life, the beauty and the silence, the bickering and the cruelties . . . If novels can be music, this is a novel with perfect pitch."  —Clare Boylan

"A wonderful book, a land to be revisited."  —Irish T

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844083169
  • Publisher: Virago UK
  • Publication date: 7/28/2006
  • Series: Virago Modern Classics Series
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 210,897
  • Product dimensions: 4.80 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Kate O'Brien (1897-1974), one of Ireland's greatest and best-loved writers, was born in Limerick. As well as writing plays, travel and biography, she published nine beloved novels.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Recognizing the Spacious Beauty of Another Person

    Our interactions with others-business colleagues in the conference room, family members with whom we watch SNL re-runs, friends we meet for coffee and conversation-have an inner spaciousness we occasionally get the chance of glimpsing. The mystery of another person with his inner expansive world is hard to behold and even harder-with the rush of noise, schedules, and our own inner busyness-to remember is in existence. We can live our entire lives with an impoverished understanding of the richness of others' interiority.

    The Land of Spices helps us remember. This sensitive, keen, and strongly woven novel is about Helen, the Mother Superior of a convent school in Mellick (Limerick). She is inspired by her young student Anna to resolve old, painful memories of her homosexual father. Anna in turn receives guidance and help to respond to a tragic accident and her subsequent grief. Inspiration for this reconciliation and consolation are triggered by the ability to recognize another's fathomless inner life. And though the story deals with this inner interplay, there is a lack of self-pity and even self-interest that consumes so many similar stories; likewise, the diction-which could fall prey to the sloppy slush of emotional stories-remains concrete, rich, and wise.

    Those interested in twentieth-century Irish history will find this of particular interest: written in 1941, it draws from its decade's concerns and issues in an elegant, unconventional way, capturing the lives of middle-class Catholic families as they are finding their place in a changed Ireland. And anyone familiar with the gentle and incredible wisdom of the Al-Anon life and literature will recognize the importance of not only cherishing another's inner life, but realizing it is not ours to posses or change, even with good intent.

    The Land of Spices might be an unusual summer read-but what a rich and worthwhile land you will find. With its musical, intuitive intrigue, who knows but how you might see those around you anew.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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