- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Counterpoint; First Edition edition (March 13, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1582433615
- ISBN-13: 978-1582433615
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,372,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
The Scent of God: A Memoir Paperback – March 13, 2007
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"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
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
The story she tells is simple enough. A girl is enraptured with the idea of God and God's love, so she enters a convent at 18. The girl becomes a woman who discovers that love and life are more complicated than they once seemed, so fifteen years later she leaves the convent and the life of a nun. The former nun marries a former priest and enjoys a few years of happiness.
Love led Bissell to enter the convent. Growing up in a family blighted by her father's alcoholism, Bissell yearned for love so fiercely that the only place she could imagine getting it was from God. The same burning need for love that led her to a cloistered life ultimately led her to renounce it. As a love story, this one is distinctive and compelling.
But above all, I see this appealing memoir as an exploration of courage. It takes courage to choose an unconventional course in life. It takes courage to challenge one's faith. It takes courage to realize that the most solemn vow one has made was a mistake, and then it takes even more courage to admit that error and correct it. It always takes courage to love, especially when the relationship blooms (however improbably) in the context of so many taboos.
At another level, it requires courage to look at one's life with clear eyes and to tell that story honestly and with unsparing detail. Bissell is too honest to hide moments of great pettiness and even ugly moments when she was cruel to people who loved her. It is not possible to read this book and imagine that the author has fudged the truth.
Even less would it be possible to read this love story without being deeply moved. Warning: before starting the last chapters, place a box of tissues near your reading chair. Things don't always turn out the way they should, which is why we all need so much courage, intelligence and love to make our way through this world.
"The Scent of God" is a powerful reminder to all of us that life won't be tamed by our plans. Seldom if ever can we map out our lives with confident determination and have it turn out according to our cartography. This book is a powerful recollection of one woman's youthful resolve to become a saint through vows as a nun, only to be derailed from the cloister by natural maturation of body, mind, and spirit, as well as by the changing times. Bissell tells of her family (including the potatory compulsions of her father and their overarching effects), her Poor Clare sisters (although here, if I may say, I would have liked more detail about monastery life than was provided), her priest friend and later husband, and her children with bell-clear frankness but without a trace of the feared sensationalism. She succeeds resplendently in sharing with the reader her love of life in all its mountains and valleys, both physical and psychic. Her language is earthy or surgical or sublime as called for, and she conveys the heartbreak of the loss of loved ones so potently that the tears well spontaneously in sympathy. I agree with Bissell when on page 232 she opines, "I cannot believe that God finds pleasure in our suffering. Suffering is simply intrinsic to life, part of the life and death cycle...." The sorrows that she endures aren't inflictions from an Almighty who wants her to suffer, but rather, the products of life's course, nature, and the doings of human beings who make necessary choices to the best of their abilities.
I find interesting Bissell's comment on this webpage that a religious friend of hers didn't like this book because she thought Bissell did not portray herself with all the spirituality she actually possesses. I agree other aspects of personal development sometimes overtake the spiritual in the memoir, but the eight short chapters contemplating the pre-Vatican II liturgical "hours" (Matins, Lauds, Prime, etc.) are mini masterpieces that reveal the abiding, radiant love the author has retained through everything for the rigorous monastic life that has passed away for her and most of the church. Bissell's spirituality shines very brightly in those passages, I think.
Occasionally, the limits of Bissell's memory prevent scenes from blooming fully, and there is a feeling of lost flow from time to time. But these are the honest consequences of endeavoring to write nonfiction without undue embellishment.
For its bursting humanity and literary loveliness, "The Scent of God" is highly recommended!
Not JUST FOR CATHOLICS - because of the evocative prose that allows one to "see" where Beryl was living and the people in her life, the book draws one into the story. definite must read for anyone who enjoys pictures painted by words.