Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace

Beverly Donofrio, Author
Beverly Donofrio. Viking, $25.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-670-02575-6
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 03/07/2013
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-14-312490-0
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-101-60609-4
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In her third autobiographical work (after Looking for Mary) Donofrio wrestles spiritually with the concept of evil after being raped at knifepoint in her Mexico home. Having finally found her way as a writer midlife, become a pious Catholic, and settled in the old colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in a house she built herself, Donofrio was 55 and a new grandmother when she was attacked by the town’s serial rapist in her own bedroom one night in June. Her testimony and work with the police soon after helped bring the man to justice, but Donofrio was shaken in her Christian faith, angry at God for allowing such senseless evil, and plunged into a spiritual crisis involving an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and shame. Finding refuge in a monastery seemed the only way to feel truly safe, and the bulk of her thoughtfully circuitous narrative dwells on her six-month pilgrimage to various monasteries, among the Trappists at St. Benedict’s in Snowmass, Colo., the Carmelites at Nada Hermitage in Crestone, Colo., and at her midwife friend Estrella’sHoly Land retreat in the Missouri Ozarks, among other places. Donofrio searched for a deeper relationship to Jesus by immersing herself in prayer, meditation, and writings by the church fathers, saints, and mystics, which she lists in a last chapter; and she even contemplated becoming a nun. Yet the simple act of asking questions proved a salve, as she depicts in this insightful, candidly unfolding, soul-bearing journey to grace. Agent, Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Mar.)
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