*** Kicking the Habit by Eleanor Stewart


Kicking the Habit is the plainly told memoir of a young woman who trained to be a Catholic nun in the early sixties, took her vows, but ended up leaving the monastic life after training as a nurse and midwife. I enjoyed the many vivid details of her training, from the fortnightly bathing schedule she was offered in the French convent where she trained to the delights of summer vacations with her fellow novices, but the story is much deeper, since her training took place in a time of great changes in the Catholic Church, after the Vatican II Council, which amongst many other adjustments required all monastic orders to review their charters and rules. Even during her training she sees the number of novices dropping precipitously as job opportunities for women outside the convent multiply — and indeed she shows many formidable women in charge of the convents where she trains and lives (formidable in positive as well as negative ways). Today, these women are CEOs!

The book would have benefited from some proof reading, as there are occasional repeated words and gross misspellings. But these defects do not detract from a great story.

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