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VIRGIN and MARTYR by Andrew M. GREELY (1985) HardCover

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$2.00,  negotiable  
(Item on Hold)
Wisconsin, USA
$3.50, buyer pays
johnsresale ( 135 )

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Book is in good-fair condition. See picture. Hard-Cover.

Reviewer from "This was the first book I ever read by Andrew M. Greeley, and it might have been the best. In 1994 there was a certain teenaged satisfaction in reading a book that totally ticked off the prudes among my classmates in Catholic school, although with a few Greeley novels under my proverbial belt, I honestly can't see why so many Catholics get their knickers in a twist over what Greeley writes. This Chicago Irishman seems to genuinely revere his Church and uphold its institutions. True he may be slanted a bit toward the "progressive" wing of the Church, but I've never read him writing anything heretical or damaging to the institution. Annnnnyway, this novel is about Blackie Ryan, Greeley's alter-ego, a Chicago priest with a rapier wit, a keen eye for observation, and a brain the size of St. Peter's Basilica. Ryan solves mysteries and hears Confessions daily before brunch. Okay, I'm exaggerating for levity's sake, but the truth is, Ryan is a satisfyingly fun character in Greeley's simple little stories. Reading one of these books is a lot like eating chocolates or watching Desperate Housewives (not that I do that...welllll, the chocolate part, mebbe) meaning it gives some satisfaction and doesn't really hurt anyone. So in this novel, Ryan's cousin, the lovely `black Irish' Cathy has gone missing from her post at a South American convent, where a recent revolution has replaced the regime of a brutal leftist dictator with a democratic government. Ryan and an attorney friend (who is in love with Cathy) go to the nation (which was invented by Joseph Conrad for his thriller `Nostromo') and seek the truth about whether Cathy is truly dead. The bitter fact is that Cathy has lived an intense and tragic life, turning down a chance at love in order to fulfill her mother's vicarious dream of a life in holy orders. Cathy was reportedly tortured and murdered by the leftists fighters, who hate Christianity, but Ryan has his doubts: although these same doubts may be no more than wishful thinking that spares him from facing the terrible death of a beloved relative. Meanwhile, an unscrupulous Catholic social leader back in Chicago is capitalizing on Cathy's apparent murder in order to fund his own ends. This man is whipping up grassroots support among Chicago's Irish faithful to petition the Vatican to take up the case of Cathy's sainthood, based on her status as virgin and martyr (though one or both of those titles might be misplaced, as some inside the novel know). The story flashes back and forth from the pre-Vatican II world of Chicago's Catholic orthodoxy, to the Reagan years with their Central American intrigues against Marxist insurgents, and the eventual answer to whether the titular "Saint Cathy of Chicago, Virgin and Martyr" is truly dead is finally delivered on a silver platter. (Those who have read this novel will catch that pun.) All in all this is a fine light read that keeps you guessing till the end and along the way sketches a portrait of life among Catholic working-class Irish Chicagoans that is every bit as good as Chaim Potok's detailings of Jewish life in New York City of roughly the same time. I hope you enjoy this novel. It certainly takes me back a decade to be writing about it in 2005."


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