From Publishers Weekly
In 1957, 18-year-old Bissell entered the monastery of the cloistered order of the Poor Clares in New Jersey. At 33, after falling in love with a priest, she left. The memoir details Bissell's lifelong love affair with God and decade-long love affair with an Italian priest, Vittoria Bosca. The two wed once Bosca received a dispensation from Rome to leave the priesthood and had two children before he, 25 years her senior, died of cancer three years after their marriage. Bissell's intense desire to become a saint drew her to cloistered life, where the constraints of pre–Vatican II monasticism created a spiritual existence comprising prayer, work and self-mortification. Her forbidden attraction to Bosca resulted in several years of smoldering but unconsummated passion (despite lots of lusty kissing). He believed they could maintain a loving but chaste relationship as priest and nun; Bissell wanted more. She was shocked to find the Church willing to excuse their sexual relationship, yet disapproving of their marrying. Her memoir details monastic life, the lure of the protective cloister, the spiritual havoc wrought by Vatican II and the conflicts many Catholics have with tenets of their faith. This is a deeply moving tale of a woman torn between her love for God and her love for one of his emissaries. (Apr.)
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"A deeply moving tale of a woman torn between her love for God and her love for one of his emissaries." -- Publishers Weekly
"It is rare to read a memoir that isn't at least occasionally self-aggrandizing and narcissistic, but this one is never so. Instead, Bissell's humility and blatant honesty are refreshing, invigorating, and inspirational. Recommended for all libraries." -Library Journal
"THE SCENT OF GOD is an ode to passion both spiritual and sensual. Meticulously researched and skillfully written, it is the story of a woman who twice gave up everything for love -- first for God, then for a man." -- The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Vivid detail and skillful dialogue . . . The strength of Ms. Bissell's memoir lies in the unflinching examination of her motives for entering and leaving religious life... A compelling and soulful read." --National Catholic Reporter
"Bissell seems to find inner joy even during life's most difficult trials, and she writes about spiritual matters with a marvelous clarity of vision." -- The Washington Post