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Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Inspirational, Faith-Based Nonfiction, 2016

With humor and opinions aplenty, a woman embarks on an unconventional quest to see if she is meant to be a nun.

Just as Jane Christmas decides to enter a convent in mid-life to find out whether she is “nun material”, her long-term partner Colin, suddenly springs a marriage proposal on her. Determined not to let her monastic dreams be sidelined, Christmas puts her engagement on hold and embarks on an extraordinary year-long adventure to four convents - one in Canada and three in the UK. In these communities of cloistered nuns and monks, she shares - and at times chafes and rails against - the silent, simple existence she has sought all of her life. Christmas takes this spiritual quest seriously, but her story is full of the candid insights, humorous social faux pas, profane outbursts, and epiphanies that make her books so relatable and popular. And Then There Were Nuns offers a seldom-seen look inside modern cloistered life, and it is sure to ruffle more than a few starched collars among the ecclesiastical set.

©2013 Jane Christmas (P)2014 Post Hypnotic Press Inc.

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Wonderful book!

I absolutely loved this book and didn't want it to end. It was so rich in a variety of ways. The narrator was brilliant and brought the author's words to life. I lived every minute of Jane's journey and search for the question of whether or not to be a nun. The book had serious and humorous moments. Coming from an Anglo Catholic background myself, I could so relate to some of her experiences.

This book helped me to look deeper into my own faith and I would listen to it all over again. No other book has grabbed my attention as much as this one did. Thank you Jane.

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Profile Image for Midwestbonsai
  • Midwestbonsai
  • 05-07-16

takes the reader on the road with her

Discernment is a different animal than decision. Decision is to make a choice. Discernment is the process of making that choice. Sometimes the process is quick and simple; others it is protracted and painful. Jane Christmas’ takes the reader on the road with her when at age 57 she tries to discern if she is called to a religious life.

Jane is born and raised in Canada to a Roman Catholic mother and Anglican father. She is raised with a foot in both faiths. Her father, light years ahead of his generation, exposes her to many different faiths and teaches her to respect all people’s beliefs. As she grows up she chooses the Anglican Church as her home and raises her children Anglican.

There is a very interesting discussion about the weakness of the Anglican Church. It was started as the Church of England by Henry VIII when he broke away from Rome in his quest to marry Anne Boleyn. In England and its former territories it is known as the Anglican Church. In the United States it is the Episcopal Church. The weakness that the author points out is it is a religion governed by committee. There is not one central figure. The church’s beliefs have evolved to different principles in different areas. She also talks about how decisions are debated for decades before a vague statement is released which in turn is debated further. I found this peek into the Anglican world fascinating.

Jane visits several different groups, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, to try to discern whether she is being called to be a nun. I found it interested that she did not feel called to the priesthood since the Anglican Church does ordain women. Her discernment process involves cloistered groups and groups that work directly with the public.

All this would be a very straight forward story of “will she or will she not” become a nun except her life has anything but straightforward. She has been divorced twice, has grown children and accepted a marriage proposal shortly before embarking on her spiritual journey. The main challenge Jane deals with is not the obedience or poverty or even chastity expected of a nun. It is that the discernment process sheds light on a long buried traumatic event and Jane must deal with it in order to move forward.

Elizabeth Wiley does a fantastic job narrating. Her voice is clear and pleasant to listen to. She does a wonderful job of conveying Jane’s fear, uncertainty and curiosity. She also does a great job with the many accents involved, men and women both. The best part of Ms. Wiley’s narrating is that I really got a sense of who Jane is as a person. She seemed to have a little bit of mischievousness to her. I think I would enjoy having coffee and chocolate biscuits with her. The production quality was very good.

Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

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  • Madeira Darling
  • 31-07-20

Holy Narcissism

Alright first things first I haven’t finished the book and don’t believe I will, but as someone who has dedicated their life to their church (different religion) I have to say this woman distinctly doesn’t seem to have what it takes at all. Her opinion of the church updating prayers and so on to be more inclusive (“a way to get more bums on seats and more money in the donation plate” not an exact quote, but the jist) is vile, did she not consider that those bums are attached to human beings with minds and souls who need community and pastoral care as much as she does? She doesn’t care, she only cares about her cozy comfortable familiarity, in her cozy comfortable church, no thought for those left outside. She, a woman who is comfortably enough off to afford Manolos and a trip to England every three months for years at a time, who had a wonderful childhood according to her, thinks it is more important that the church accommodate her than accommodating people who've been abused by their fathers, She even defends residential schools for indigenous Canadians as helping to “uplift them out of the poverty and alcoholism of their home communities”. She’s bothered by any form of change ever and her fantasies of life in a convent are disgustingly selfish in every way. She’s bitter at atheists who’ve been hurt by faith, bitter against the church for not attacking back. She remembers feeling targeted and left out as an Anglican in Catholic school but turns around and passes judgement on other people left out. She dreams of a life of lazy contemplation, of furthering her happy fuzzy fluffy relationship with her nice fluffy god and cares nothing for others. I might have managed to get through it on the interest of the subject alone but her personality and view point is so vile I couldn’t stand it.

Not to mention the blasé way she contemplates abandoning her children and fiancé, I will admit, I myself find it uncomfortable when churches focus entirely on social justice and brush aside the supernatural, and more mystical concerns, but I don't think you have to give up social justice to keep an interest in the afterlife and spiritual life, but her position as someone who needs relatively little in the way of social justice makes it so easy for her to brush all of it aside without a shred of empathy. Faith without works is dead as they say, and works without faith don't work all that well.

Update: It gets worse, I decided to continue listening to it out of horrified curiosity and honestly for a moment I thought she might improve as a person, but no. Her entitlement in the face of Catholicism is absolutely vile. I’ll be honest about my faith, I’m a Luciferian Satanist, but I would never just waltz into another faith’s sacred space and argue with them over not including me in their sacred rites. I’m not a Catholic, that stuff’s not for me

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  • Lahana Singer
  • 28-08-17

Monastic endeavors, fun with nuns!

Loved it. I myself plan to join an Orthodox Women's Monastery next year. This book helped me to think deeply about the monastic life and life in the world. Since befriending a couple of sisterhood's a few years ago, I should think many more women would take this path if they were aware of it.

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  • Katherine Turcotte
  • 06-04-16

Enchanting Story with Lots of Humor

Where does And Then There Were Nuns rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is the very best audiobook I have listened to this far.

What was one of the most memorable moments of And Then There Were Nuns?

When Jane enters a service late and drops her paperwork at the feet of another nun who is not too thrilled :)

Which character – as performed by Elizabeth Wiley – was your favorite?

The main character, Jane.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was inspired by the entire book.

Any additional comments?

I have a penchant for stories about the religious life of nuns, and in fact used to visit the convent when I was a child as I had great aunts that were nuns. It always seemed to present itself as such a fun and secretive life.

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  • Linda
  • 24-03-15

Delightfully Meaningful

Jane's journey to self-realization and self-redemption is bravely and wittily undertaken in And Then There Were Nuns. She is so human with a larger than human sense of humor and tells her story with just the right amount of pathos. Wonderfully read by Elizabeth Wiley.

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Profile Image for CBear4242
  • CBear4242
  • 07-01-20

Offensive, Unrealistic and Insulting

I found this book deeply insulting. The woman doing the "discernment" for a life as a religious doesn't truly do any discernment. She bounces among three long-suffering convents in as many weeks and wonders why she doesn't find herself instantly at home or "called" somewhere. Serious discernment takes time - she makes it all into one big joke. That is unless she is sobbing about an assault or angry about how she is being treated in a community.

There is no sense of "where and what is God calling me to...?" It's more a question of "Where do *I* want to hang out?"

I'm sure the nuns in the convent she visited saw right through her "discernment" act. (Good grief, she had her fiance driving her around to the various convents!) Nuns can tell the real from the fake quite quickly - which probably explained their reaction to her.

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  • WF2022
  • 09-03-15

And then there were Nuns

Would you listen to And Then There Were Nuns again? Why?

No

Any additional comments?

Book wasn't what i thought it was going to be, sometimes i wanted to slap the character for being stupid

2 people found this helpful