Body and Soul

Marcelle Bernstein, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-312-06308-5
Anna, enclosed for 13 years as Sister Gabriel in a Welsh convent, has already begun to lose her fervor when a crisis summons her briefly outside its walls. Her brother Simon, having brought the family woolen mill to the verge of bankruptcy, has committed suicide and left his pregnant wife Lynn with two small sons. Anna knows the business: she contributes to her convent's income by carding and spinning yarns that she dyes with natural colors from nuts and mosses. Lynn's ineptitude and the mill's imminent ruin impel Anna to try to save the family. At the plant she confronts the scurrilous Beattie, a manager who harrasses female workers and plans to switch to cheaper synthetic fibers, and becomes attracted to an honest overseer, brash Peter Hallam. Submitting rather passively to badgering by her whiny sister-in-law and rough-mannered lover, Anna doesn't always seem forceful enough to make the tough decisions required as she is torn between religious and secular life. Journalist Bernstein, author of three previous novels and The Nuns , a well-researched nonfiction study, does better with depictions of the solaces, rigors, self-flagellations and lesbian temptations of the cloister than with the humdrum workaday details of the yarn-spinning industry. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs alternates. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Hardcover - 544 pages - 978-0-7089-8728-5
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