Synopses & Reviews
A moving, lyrical, melancholy and spiritual novel by the acclaimed author of The Night Child, in which Sister Angeline, unwillingly sent to a radical convent and confronting her tragic past, asks the deep question, follow your heart or follow the rules?
...a powerful, beautifully written, transformative novel.... —Garth Stein, New York Times Bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain on The Night Child
After surviving a tragedy that killed her entire family, sixteen-year-old Meg joins a cloistered convent, believing it is her life's work to pray full time for the suffering of others. Taking the name Sister Angeline, she spends her days and nights in silence, moving from one prayerful hour to the next. She prays for the hardships of others, the sick and poor, the loved ones she lost, and her own atonement.
When the Archdiocese of Chicago runs out of money to keep the convent open, she is torn from her carefully constructed life and sent to a progressive convent on a rocky island in the Pacific Northwest. There, at the Light of the Sea, five radical feminist nuns have their own vision of faithful service. They do not follow canonical law, they do not live a cloistered life, and they believe in using their voices for change.
As Sister Angeline struggles to adapt to her new home, she must navigate her grief, fears, and confusions, while being drawn into the lives of a child in crisis, an angry teen, an EMT suffering survivor's guilt, and the parish priest who is losing his congregation to the Sisters' all-inclusive Sunday masses. Through all of this, something seems to have awakened in her, a healing power she has not experienced in years that could be her saving grace, or her downfall.
In Angeline, novelist Anna Quinn explores the complexity of our past selves and the discovery of our present truth; the enduring imprints left by our losses, forgiveness and acceptance, and why we believe what we believe. Affecting and beautifully told, Angeline is both poignant and startling and will touch the hearts of anyone who has ever asked themselves: When your foundations crumble and you've lost yourself, how do you find the strength to go on? Do you follow your heart or the rules?
"I love novels that bring a place to life and in this Anna Quinn does not disappoint. In her second novel, she masterfully creates an island in the Pacific Northwest that jumps off the page and begs to be visited. On this island she places an avant-garde religious order of nuns who have been summarily excommunicated by the Pope for various feminist infractions. No matter to the members of the renegade convent, which houses itself in a collection of yurts and offers Sunday services to the people of the island. A nun called Sister Angeline joins them, having been sent there by a Mother Superior who knows that the radical alteration in Angeline's preferred lifestyle of silence, contemplation, bodily punishment, and prayer needs some serious changes. Light of the Sea 'convent' will definitely provide that. The characters Angeline encounters are quirky and wise. The place she finds them in is a balm to her soul. She needs to be relieved of the burdens she carries from her past, and the renegade nuns are the ones to get her started. Angeline is a read that has everything: place, characters, and social issues, all delivered by the author in a way that never even verges on becoming a polemic."
Elizabeth George, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"Anna Quinn's novels dive deep into the human psyche, exploring our capacity to harm and heal. Angeline is a call to open arms, a clear-eyed view of our often-flawed humanity, and how the power of compassion can change everything. It is a novel of gorgeous sentences and beautiful messages. It left me feeling stronger, wiser, and in complete awe."
Erica Bauermeister, New York Times bestselling author of The Scent Keeper
"Angeline is a mystical hymn to the power of women in community, with an entry point that only the rare writer has the guts to brave. Quinn does it with empathy and acumen, never vilifying. Instead, as you read her lyrical prose, you feel her pure, seeking spirit. Her never heavy-handed, third-eye-wide-open aperture, as she links arms with you from the first sentence...all the way to the last. I loved this gem of a novel."
Laura Munson, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and founder of Haven Writing Retreats
"Quinn is a powerful writer who straddles the depth of despair and the height of joy with grace and beauty. Her story is both lyrical and terrifying, and, for those of us who so desperately want to believe, a breath of fresh air in a world we're not sure we want to occupy. Angeline is a book to be treasured."
Barbara Conrey, USA Today bestselling author of Nowhere Near Goodbye
"A compassionate page-turner that is at once a gripping thriller and a deep examination of grief, Anna Quinn's Angeline takes us from the cloistered halls of a Chicago convent to an island in the Pacific Northwest where a group of remarkable women have created a community on their own terms. Filled with memorable characters and startling events, Angeline illuminates the power of nature, friendship, and self-acceptance to heal the most painful of wounds. Writing with lyricism, grace, and insight, Anna Quinn reminds us of our shared suffering, our shared humanity, and the possibility of transformation even in the darkest of times."
JoAnne Tompkins, bestselling author of What Comes After
"In prose that shimmers off the page, Anna Quinn takes us inside the life of a progressive convent on an island in the Salish Sea. At the heart of the story is Sister Angeline, who has been dispatched from the shelter of her old convent to seek a spiritual home with a group of radical feminist nuns. But like a tidepool that appears tranquil on the surface, island life soon proves more treacherous than it presents and Angeline's' spiritual quest takes a darker turn. She must break through the nested cloisters of her mind and heart to discover that salvation takes many forms. A story that is at once a nuanced journey of forgiveness and a masterfully crafted psychological thriller, Sister Angeline asks us to consider who gets to decide what is moral, what is right and whether there is a difference. 'Wade into the water with me, ' one of the Angeline's sister nuns asks of her. Quinn asks us to do the same."
Carol Smith, author of Crossing the River: Seven Stories That Saved My Life; A Memoir
"[A] mystical, marvelous tale of love and loss and growth, a story that takes place at the fascinating intersection of twenty-first-century realism and centuries-old faith. The language is pure poetry, and the story is both mysterious and inevitable, terrifying and inspiring. A beautifully plotted novel that will cling to the reader for a very long time."
Louisa Morgan, author of A Secret History of Witches"
About the Author
Anna Quinn is an American writer and teacher based in Washington State. She is the author of the novel The Night Child. Her writing has appeared in Psychology Today, Writer's Digest, Medium, Washington 129 Anthology, and Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 Anthology. She is the founder of the Writers' Workshoppe in Port Townsend, Washington. When she isn't writing, she's kayaking the Salish Sea or hiking in the Olympic Rainforest.