From Publishers Weekly
Even though relatively few Catholic nuns actually wear the distinctive uniforms today, the habit still fascinates and disconcerts Catholics and non-Catholics alike. This "wearable sacramental" sums up much about Catholic spirituality and history, and Kuhns does a workmanlike job of taking readers back to the habit's early origins, through its myriad medieval variations and up to its conflicted present. Along the way we are reminded of the many roles that religious women have played in the development of Catholicism and of Western society, roles that were reflected in the clothing they wore, from peasant simplicity to elaborate creations of silk. Kuhns pays particular attention to the complex interplay between social class and the life of the cloister-different orders drew their membership from distinct social strata. Unfortunately, aside from a deftly written introductory chapter that examines the habit's contemporary fascination, much of the book sorts dutifully through too much history, without a clear story line to keep the reader's interest. [...] Kuhns is strangely neutral on the question, still hotly debated, of whether the habit is a liberating or oppressive force today. This inconclusive conclusion is something of a letdown in a book about Christianity's most dramatic and durable fashion statement.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"…Kuhns does a workman-like job of taking readers back to the habit's early origins, through its myriad medieval variations and up to its conflicted present."
"The author evenhandedly offers historical context and careful explanations . . . This readable overview is recommended for public and academic libraries."
"A revelatory work that 'opens the nun’s closet doors for the first time,' then scans the contents for all their historical and symbolic associations."
"…the door to the sister's closet has swung open..."
"…Elizabeth Kuhns' book about the history and culture of the habit is a sheer delight, wonderfully informative…."
--The Catholic Review
"An original, informative and engaging work…."
--The Catholic Advocate
"Fascinating details fill the book…."
--Our Sunday Visitor
"A welcome and important contribution to the literature on a sensitive subject that often inspires more heat than light."
--Margaret Susan Thompson, Professor of History, Syracuse University
"Elizabeth Kuhns’ readable account chronicles the development of the habit, while pointing to the important witness of the veil in the future.... Bravo."
--Raymond Arroyo, News Director, EWTNews
From the Hardcover edition.