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Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Sonby Peter Manseau
Synopses & Reviews
The 1950s was a boom time for the Catholic Church in America, with large families of devout members providing at least one son or daughter for a life of religious service. Boston was at the epicenter of this explosion, and Bill Manseau and Mary Doherty — two eager young parishioners from different towns — became part of a new breed of clergy, eschewing the comforts of homey parishes and choosing instead to minister to the inner-city poor. Peter Manseau's riveting evocation of his parents' parallel childhoods, their similar callings, their experiences in the seminary and convent, and how they met while tending to the homeless of Roxbury during the riot-prone 1960s is a page-turning meditation on the effect that love can have on profound faith.
Once married, the Manseaus continued to fight for Father Bill's right to serve the church as a priest, and it was into this situation that Peter and his siblings were born and raised to be good Catholics while they witnessed their father's personal conflict with the church's hierarchy. A multigenerational tale of spirituality, Vows also charts Peter's own calling, one which he tried to deny even as he felt compelled to consider the monastic life, toying with the idea of continuing a family tradition that stretches back over 300 years of Irish and French Catholic priests and nuns.
It is also in Peter's deft hands that we learn about a culture and a religion that has shaped so much of American life, affected generations of true believers, and withstood great turmoil. Vows is a compelling tale of one family's unshakable faith that to be called is to serve, however high the cost may be.
"The title says it all: a twin set of Catholic dreams and ideals gone awry — or holding fast, depending on what angle you're looking from. Manseau's memoir returns to the 1950s, the early years of his parents' devotion to the Church, and their eventual straying. Lawlor gives a solid reading of Manseau's story, which aches with the tenderness of a son's love for his parents. His voice occupies only a small range, shifting slightly to indicate emotion, affect or the speech of others, but adequately gets out of the way of Manseau's narrative. He chooses not to attempt the inimitable Boston accent of the book's characters, for the most part, wisely leaving the sound of their true voices to his listeners' imaginations. Lawlor stakes out a tone part nostalgic, part removed and part regretful, nicely duplicating the feel of Manseau's book and its conflicted feelings about the Church that so thoroughly dominated its protagonists' lives. Simultaneous release with the Free Press hardcover. (Reviews, July 25). (Jan.) Read additional Web-exclusive audio reviews at ." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In a multi-generational tale of spirituality, Manseau tells the courageous story of his parents and how their decision has affected his own spiritual journey.
About the Author
Peter Manseau is the author of "Vows" and coauthor of "Killing the Buddha". His writing has also appeared in "The New York Times Magazine", "The Washington Post", and on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered". A founding editor of the award-winning webzine KillingTheBuddha.com, he is now the editor of "Search, The Magazine of Science, Religion, and Culture". He lives with his wife and two daughters in Washington, D.C., where he studies religion and teaches writing at Georgetown University.
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