8 Jun 2018



Bewilderment - shock - exhilaration

These were Monica Baldwin's reactions to life in 1941 after twenty-eight years in a strictly enclosed convent.

Overwhelmed by the pace ofwartime London, embarrassed by her ignorance of everyday customs, excited by her first discovery of the cinema - radio - cocktails - silk lingerie, her new life seemed half nightmare, half luxurious adventure. Why did she renounce her vows? In this fascinating record the ex-nun reveals with candour the stresses of life in an enclosed community and her own inward struggle to conform to the Rule. 

- Back Cover Blurb

I am not the first member of my family to leap over a wall.
- First Sentence, Introduction 

The crescendo of shocks which awaited me began abruptly with my first introduction to up-to-date underwear. Frankly, I was appalled.

The garments to which I was accustomed had been contrived by thorough-going ascetics in the fourteenth century, who considered that a nice, thick, long-sleeved 'shift' of rough, scratchy serge was the right thing to wear next to your skin. My shifts, when new, had reached almost to my ankles. However, hard washing and much indiscriminate patching soon stiffened and shrank them until they all but stood up by themselves.
 - Memorable Moment,  Page 8

SOURCE ... Borrowed from a friend, thanks Sally.


MY THOUGHTS ... Have you ever wondered what changes you'd encounter if ever you were to, lets say, fall asleep for ten .. for twenty .. for almost thirty years?

You have?

Thank goodness I'm not the only one!

Well, not that she fell asleep but ...

From a world of physical hardships; with no getting away from what sounds like some pretty challenging characters to a world of war and thus very different 'hardships', from an orderly life to a very hectic one, life certainly had changed ... and how ... in the twenty-eight years the author, a niece of British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, spent as a nun in a enclosed order.

Told with an exquisitely British sense of humour. Chronicling life both pre and post entrance into the convent, I thought I Leap Over The Wall a truly fascinating read (that it was banned in Ireland for many years no surprise). The fact that we never got to know exactly why she chose this life in the first place; why she she stuck it out for quite so long (though I think we'll probably all have our own thoughts on this, many of them I'm sure, pretty accurate) when it became clear early on that she had no vocation for this life, my only small gripes and alas something we will never know for sadly she took her own life in 1975 after writing two other books; 'The Called and the Chosen' and 'Goose In The Jungle (the former a novel, the latter, a second autobiography). 


WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

Greetings Tracy. It sounds like a good read, and I'm glad you liked it. I liked studying World Ware 2 in school, and considered it my best topic in history. I've left a sample of how I write myself on my blog, called 'SI' - half a chapter. Blessings to you. Love love, Andrew.

Suko said...

I'm glad that you enjoyed this new-to-me book by a new-to-me author, Tracy. It sounds like it would be an addictive read (aren't you glad I didn't say "habit forming"?).

Kelly said...

This sounds like a fascinating book! My grandmother lived from 1884 to 1985 and I always marveled at the changes she witnessed in her 100 years. I can only imagine what it must have been like for this woman, having had no exposure at all to so many things. A bit like culture shock.

(still smiling at Suko's pun)

nightwingsraven said...

I, too agree that this sounds
like a fascinating book, both
before and after she renounced
her vows. I will add it to my
list. And when I read your
review, I was reminded of
The Nun's Story with Audrey

Literary Feline said...

This does sound fascinating, and I am glad you enjoyed it, Tracy. I enjoy books set in that time period, and Monica Baldwin's story sounds like such an interesting one. I can't even imagine what a change that would have been for her. I guess I will have to find out and read this! Thanks for sharing.