The Land of Spices available in Paperback
Mere Marie-Helene once turned her back on life, sealing up her heart in order to devote herself to God. Now the formidable Mother Superior of an Irish convent, she has, for some time, been experiencing grave doubts about her vocation. But when she meets Anna Murphy, the youngest-ever boarder, the little girl's solemn, poetic nature captivates her and she feels 'a storm break in her hollow heart'. Between them an unspoken allegiance is formed that will sustain each through the years as the Reverend Mother seeks to combat her growing spiritual aridity and as Anna develops the strength to resist the conventional demands of her background.
About 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 wonderful novels.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.