The Abbess of Andalusia: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O'Conner

The Abbess of Andalusia is a unique biography on the Southern author, Flannery O'Conner. What makes it unique? Flannery was a Catholic woman in the Bible Belt South, and this book focused primarily on her faith - not entirely on her work.
I read this book in it's entirety during my weekly Eucharistic Adoration, since there is no restrictions on what you can do during your hour spent in chapel, as long as it is quiet and pious literature.

Flannery O'Conner is a very important and special figure to me, regardless of her religion - though that is a common bond we share. I love any Southern woman with a wicked, dry wit - and her stories are so dark and soul crushing. Talking about her with Catholics who have never heard of her has taught me that no one believes that she was actually Catholic. Surely someone who writes about murder so casually shouldn't be associated with The Holy Church! But that's what I love about her.
So, I never got to take a formal class on Flannery O'Conner's life and writings while in school, though I would have never passed on the chance if it had come up - but I'm the sort of person who will research the heck out of something that interests me anyway.

It's difficult to write a review on a biography the way one would for fiction. Everything is just laid out for you. But I can tell you what I learned from it. The whole "How Can This Be Catholic" criticism isn't new. During her life, Flannery wasn't well received for just exactly this. That the stories were actually parables for Christian life was lost on everyone but a few of her readers - and they were the sharpest readers. This book does not delve into her writing career. Rather, it focuses on her life with Lupus and how, though she suffered for a long time, she always took time to help her friends. To me, this is what Catholicism is about - sacrifice. To give up your time and interests and go out of your way to help someone, or even be kind to someone (that you may or may not like) will lead you to so many things. Thats the basic long and short of it. Flannery would continue long correspondences with friends and fans, advising them in all manner of things. I think she still may be, because she set a few things straight with me through this book.

If you're a fan of Flannery O'Conner, I recommend this book (published by Tan Books) - especially if you are interested in religious studies. To my knowledge, there are no other books written about Ms. O'Conner's spirituality. This one is well researched and an interesting read.

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