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Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son Hardcover – October 4, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Peter Manseau's deeply personal memoir is a meditation on family, church, faith and self. Oh, and God too. The story of rejecting the faith you are given, only to embrace it again in some form (or at least make peace with it) may seem familiar, but lost within the loving detail of Manseau's writing the reader discovers it anew. A spirit of tenderness and generosity permeates the pages of this story, but always leavened by unflinching honesty, the salt that keeps the flavor from the first page to the last. Manseau brings us into his sense of wonder as he traces the journey of his priest-father and his nun-mother who, if they had stayed true to their initial calling into the Catholic church, would have ensured he and his siblings never came to exist. Vows also brings us into the strong Boston Catholic culture of half a century ago, and near its end we find an unexpected left turn into the very heart of the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman church in 2005. But however intrinsic to the book these elements are, they only inform the story, and never overwhelm it. Primarily, as he traces the journey first of his parents, and then himself, we are left with a sense of joy over seeing how life itself tends unruly and writes its own story while we are busy making our plans. And though religion itself is on every page of the book, in forms both personal and institutional, the heart of the book is its humanity.--Ed Dobeas

From Publishers Weekly

In an engrossing memoir, a young and talented writer limns the lives of his parents, a former nun and a priest who chose to marry but never renounced his ministerial orders. The co-author of Killing the Buddha and founding editor of the online magazine of the same name, Manseau draws on family memories, church records and mountains of material dredged up in the wake of the clergy abuse scandals to bring to life the vibrant working-class Boston Catholic culture of a half-century ago. He describes, from the inside out, a world of ecclesiastical obedience and principled rebellion, public virtue and private vice. He also dissects the ambivalent but loving heritage of parents who found themselves, by choice and by accident, on the vanguard of a religious reform movement that, to the outsider, seems rooted more in hope than in reality. As Manseau recounts, his father's status as a "married priest" put the family in an odd no-man's land peopled by married priests and former nuns, hoping for official ecclesiastical acceptance. Readers seeking detached biography will not find it in this wry and deeply affectionate tribute. Seductively well written, occasionally polemical, Manseau chronicles a son's attempt to make peace with the mysteries of faith and family. (Oct. 11)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743249070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743249072
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,029,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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on October 31, 2005
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