Friday, 22 January 2016

VATICAN WALTZ by Roland Merullo

Vatican WaltzVatican Waltz by Roland Merullo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION:The new novel from the award-winning author of Breakfast with Buddha and Revere Beach Boulevard tells the story of a young Catholic woman jolted from a quietly devout life in pursuit of a mysterious calling.

Cynthia Piantedosi lives a quiet, unassuming life outside of Boston, guided by her Catholic faith. When she loses her beloved grandmother, she begins experiencing “spells” of such intense spiritual intimacy that she wonders about her sanity. Devoted to her elderly father and not particularly interested in dating and socializing, she develops a deep friendship with her parish priest. His congregation sees him as provocative and radical, but he encourages Cynthia to explore her faith—however it presents itself.

When he is killed in a mysterious accident, a message begins to emerge from Cynthia’s prayers: God is calling her to be the first female Catholic priest. Her revelation is met with ridicule by certain of the more reactionary officials she reaches out to within the Church. Unable to tune out the divine messages, she lets the power of unswerving faith drive her all the way to the Vatican in pursuit of a destiny she doesn’t fully understand—and a turn of events that will inevitably bring long overdue change to the Catholic Church.

MY REVIEW: VATICAN WALTZ was a gently intriguing read with a fascinating twist at the end that raises questions about the way in which believers accept certain doctrines as factual (I can’t say anymore without giving the ending a way). I imagine the book will be of particular interest to Catholics but there is much in it about the nature of spiritual experience in general — particularly that of mysticism and its connection with the reality of life. The story is written well with a genuinely unpredictable plot. More than that, it explores issues of the nature of spirituality and the way in which organised religion often undermines it. The story is probably not for those who have a rigid view of religion constructed around rules and ritual. But for those who are willing to allow a story to question the way they look at religion and spirituality, it is a rewarding read.

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