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BOOK REVIEW: The Story of a Soul

Author: St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Publisher: Burns, Oates, & Washbourne Ld.
Publication Date: Dec. 9, 1912
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

“My happiness was perfect, and nothing troubled the inward peace of my soul.”

Marie Frances Thérèse Martin entered the Carmel of Lisieux in 1888, at the age of 15, and officially became a nun in 1890. She died in the Carmel in 1897 and Pope Pius XI declared her a saint in 1925.

From a very young age, St. Thérèse was determined to become a nun and devote her life to God and Jesus.  St. Thérèse’s autobiography details her brief life, beginning with her childhood and moving forward through the illness that ended her life at the young age of 24. An extensive epilogue extends her story beyond what she wrote in her original manuscript at the request of Mother Agnes of the Carmel.

While St. Thérèse dedicates the majority of “The Story of a Soul” to her faith, she provides a great deal of wisdom that can be valuable to non-Christian people, as well.

She discusses empathy, simplicity, self-control and appreciation of beauty. For instance: “If I wish to increase this love in my heart, and the devil tries to bring before me the defects of a Sister, I hasten to look for her virtues, her good motives; I call to mind that though I may have seen her fall once, no doubt she has gained many victories over herself, which in her humility she conceals.”

I chose this book because Gretchen Rubin read it as part of her research for “The Happiness Project” (a book detailing her year-long experiment into improving happiness in her own life). She was interested in St. Thérèse’s happiness in spite of her austere life at the Carmel.

After the ninth chapter, I found this book a bit tedious to read, as St. Thérèse spent the final two chapters discussing little more than her desire to please Jesus.

In spite of this and her frequent tangents, I did find the book to be worthwhile.

Regardless of one’s religious preferences, St. Thérèse provides an excellent example of how to live as a good and loving person.

Stefanie Paquin is an avid reader of books about psychology and sex education, a “gearhead,” a self-taught photographer and bicycling enthusiast. She is also a blogger, which you can follow her at closednomore.wordpress.com. Originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she now resides in St. Clair Shores.
Reviewed by Stefanie Paquin on 24 February 2014

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