My Amazon Review of the Book: Abbess of Andalusia from December 14, 2012
Anchorite might be a better word. "[S]omeone
who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be
able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and--circumstances
permitting--Eucharist-focused life. As a result, anchorites are usually
considered to be a type of religious hermit."
But then, Flannery
did not abandon the world, her illness wrested her away from it. After
having some success as a writer, she had been living among the
fast-living intelligentsia of her era, and perhaps she would have been
influenced in the wrong direction had she stayed with them.
Circumstances that forced her to return home to live with her mother in
an out-of-the-way Georgia farmhouse as an invalid were perhaps her
salvation. If she had a dark night of the soul as a result, she was too
tough to mention it. She was a reluctant anchorite, maybe. Stolidly
resigned anchorite, more likely. But that wouldn't look as good as a
book title: "Resigned Anchorite--Flannery O'Conor's Spiritual Journey."
I've read much of what has been written about
Flannery O'Connor, and I didn't learn a great deal from this book that I
didn't already know. However, the book includes many new details from
previously unavailable sources, which are good to see. And the author
makes a laudable and generally successful attempt to use the new details
to illustrate how O'Connor lived out her faith and used her talents in
the small ways that were available to her. I believe this book makes a
unique contribution to the body of O'Connor criticism.