This endearing book is about a small (OK, tiny) community of mismatched, aging women struggling to find meaning and purpose on a ramshackle monastery in upstate New York. They are the last of their order, and have gotten pretty lax in following the rules of the order. Having spent their lives in service to a church that seems to no longer serve them, they are confused about their own futures and the future of the entire monastery. Led by Mike, the practical no-nonsense prioress, and Augusta, the grand ancient mystic hermit, they are joined by Gemma, a self-punishing novice, who believed she was sent to the convent by an angel, and Arielle, a firebrand jailhouse conversion who was sent there out of rehab by an angel as well. Augusta receives ‘instructions’ for recipes to make special teas for specific physic, emotional and physical ailments.
Prioress Mike receives a notice that they are being investigated by some arm of Rome, probably with an eye to closing them down and merging them with some other order. There is consternation, and Augusta’s magical sacred teas draw the inevitable closer and closer. This story is a lovely examination young and old, franchised and disenfranchised, pedestrian and mystic. Most of all, it is a story of female empowerment as the women find the courage to confront epic challenges, creating a surprising future from the oppressive ashes of the past. It will make you smile as much as it will make you think.
Ok, all that snazzy stuff about female empowerment and creating a future from the oppressive ashes of the past are not my words. You probably guessed that, right? Because whenever do I talk about female empowerment? And oppressive ashes? But nevertheless, despite the overblown rhetoric, it really is a delightful book, because who doesn’t love the idea of an angel appearing to one and giving one a destination? And magic tea? All we have here in the house is Earl Grey Darjeeling Green, and Earl Grey Citrus Black. Nothing mystical about those other than their possibly magical diuretic properties. TMI? Sorry.