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Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux Paperback – October 1, 2011

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Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux + Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Sanity, and the Peace That Passes AllUnderstanding + Poor Baby: A Child of the 60's Looks Back on Abortion
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557258082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557258083
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Refreshingly and brutally honest, the author describes a spiritual path full of poverty, loneliness, and suffering as she struggles to come to terms with her divorce, the death of loved ones, and unrequited love. She reminds the reader that "the scandal of Christ is that to have a relationship with him means to share in his suffering," and that to live a life of radical social consciousness in the 21st century is often an alienating endeavor. King offers a genuinely moving account of her quest to follow Therese's little way, become a "victim of love" and, indeed, to redefine what love means in the modern world. Recommended for anyone who is experiencing a "dark night of the soul" or interested in contemporary spirituality."

Publishers Weekly, October 2011

From the Inside Flap

What do heather King and St. Thérèse of Lisieux have in common? Their lives of faith have been propelled by a revolutionary refusal to reduce their desire for happiness. Read this book and you will want to join them in their defense of the desires that make us human.

--Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, author of God at the Ritz
"Heather King's sojourn with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is a magnificent testimony not only to the Catholic conviction that the Saints endure in the life of the Church as real friends and lively companions, but also the uncanny ability of the "Little Flower" to graciously insinuate herself into the lives of the most unexpected people in the most surprising of circumstances.  One of the year's best reads in Catholic spirituality!" 

--Father Robert Barron, Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture
Founder and Director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries
"Heather King's incisive honesty draws me in, makes me feel her agonies and joys, and sends me away enriched. St. Thérèse must be very pleased."
--Robert J. Edmonson, C.J., translator and editor, The Story of a Soul: A New Translation

More About the Author

I'm an ex-lawyer, a former barfly, and a Catholic convert with several memoirs: Parched (the dark years); Redeemed (crawling toward the light); Shirt of Flame (my year in Koreatown, L.A. reflecting upon the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux); Poor Baby (the abortions), and Stripped: Culture, Cancer, and the Cloud of Unknowing (going against medical advice).

I have a weekly arts and culture column in The Tidings, the newspaper of the archdiocese of L.A. [], a weekly column on the interior life in Aleteia [], and a monthly column in Magnificat magazine.

I also speak nationwide, lead retreats, provide editing services and blog at Heather King: Mystery, Smarts, Laughs. For my blog, a complete list of publications, upcoming events, contact info and more, visit

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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St. Therese de Lisieux.
Desert Father
It reveals more of her spiritual journey in L.A. and her insights and comparisons of her life to St. Therese's spirituality.
I highly recommend this marvelous book.
Alice Gravel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Desert Father on December 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
As a 63 year old recovered male alcoholic, retired naval officer, and Catholic priest I have recently encountered an angel on my road to happy destiny. St. Therese de Lisieux. I don't know why this has happened, but the saint continues to haunt me like the "hound of heaven".

This volume was given to me by a fellow alcoholic in recovery. Again, I know not why. But, it touched me as much as any book I've ever read.

King reminds me of a 21 century Dorothy Day. Unashamed of the gritty past that brought her to her great surrender to the god of her understanding, King shows us the way to dialog with a community of fellow pirgirms who have gone before us...marked with the sign of faith.

She demonstrates that the Communion of Saints is not some fresco on a Vatican wall, but rather a community of wisdom figures alive and well in in her life, her neighborhood, her circle of friends.

Pivotal is how the urbane, sophistocated, "been twice around the block" King is able to identify with a 19th century 24 year old French virgin who entered a cloister at age 15 without ever knowing life as King has known it.

The book is consumately readable. It's thought provoking, amusing, and deeply spiritual.
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Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book. I read Heather King's memoir Redeemed and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to diving into Shirt of Flame(I also have a personal interest in the life and writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, so this book appealed on that level as well). Even if you've never heard of St. Therese, though, you can get a great deal from this memoir. King weaves insightful explanations of Therese's spirituality with her own frank reflections on what it's like to try to live the saint's spirituality in today's world. King doesn't hold back, either; she is very open about her personal struggles (a failed romance, a writing career that is not progressing as she'd hoped, the challenges of being a single woman of a certain age and wondering what her legacy will be). I love how she shows the ways that Therese's writings and insights correspond to her own hungers, her own struggles, her own joys.

It is not easy to write a book that is part explanation of someone else's spirituality and part memoir, but King pulls it off deftly. Some of her passages are achingly beautiful; I've dog-eared many pages to go back and re-read. This is great food for the mind, and the soul.

Required full disclosure: I was sent a review copy by the publisher. I'll be buying this book to give as gifts, though, because it's too beautiful not to share.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jewels on October 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How I wish I could conjure words as eloquent as Heather King's to describe this "little" masterpiece. Inspirational, painfully authentic, and riveting: I read it too fast and will have to read it again. After I pick up her other books and read them, first.

One of my favorite quotes:
All around me, people were saying, "I'm spiritual, but I'm not religious. Oh no, I'm definitely not religious." I wanted to reply, "Does blood not beat in your veins? Have you never ached with sorrow at the suffering of the world? Have you never cried at the flight of a bird? Have you never fallen in love?"

Like another reviewer, "I dog-eared many pages to go back and re-read" and I highlighted and used tag flag post-it notes, too.

I fully intend to take this walk with Ms. King and Saint Therese of Lisieux again. Soon.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Defreitas on November 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Heather King is known to this reviewer from her memoirs, Parched (2005) and Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Sanity, and the Peace That Passes All Understanding (2008). In these two books, King has established herself as a writer of formidable prowess and of irrepressible grace. Her third book, "Shirt of Flame: A Year with St Thérèse of Lisieux," does not disappoint -- except insofar as under King's contagiously sagacious guidance, we find ourselves wishing that the book were twice as long!

Heather King presents the Carmelite saint to us in twelve chapters -- one for each month of the year. She gives us generous excerpts of Thérèse's autobiography, The Story of a Soul. King proceeds to link the life of the saint to her own life in a wonderfully seamless fashion, and goes on to suggest how those of us who are thirsting for God "as in a dry and weary land, where no water is" (Psalm 63) might benefit from the saint's example, from her wisdom, and yes, from her prayers.

In summarizing the life, the death, and the writing of The Little Flower for readers in 2011, Heather King permits no dilution of the young saint's uncompromising message. Thérèse is someone for whom God is all: someone who offered herself to God completely and without reservation as a "holocaust victim of love." The language startles, as well it might. To the Little Flower -- a name that belies the strength of this saint!
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